The Significance of Names in Song of Soloman.
The novel, Song of Solomon, seems preoccupied with the importance of providing the reader with names and with thehow? of the giving of names. The first line of Chapter One gives the reader the name of the company that the first character discusses, Robert Smith, works for: The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance. Quickly following this is Robert Smith's name as printed on a note he left on the door. .
Equally important are nicknames or associations. Not Doctor Street? is introduced as the street that the townspeople originally namedDoctor Street? because of the association of the only doctor available to them being on that street. However, when the government attempts to correct them with a reminder that the street is calledMains Avenue and not Doctor Street,? they quickly adapted their ways and called itNot Doctor Street.? Going back to Mr. Smith, association again becomes a factor when a woman (Pilate by association again with her identified contralto voice) sings a song aboutSugarman.? Mr. Smith's attempt to fly associated him with a mystical name and song-sort of romantic and beautiful. Nicknames are further explored by Macon Dead as people in town begin to call his son, Macon Jr., Milkman. Macon is angered by this nickname assigned to his son becauseit sounded dirty, intimate, and hot" (15). I wonder how Macon would have felt if his son had been nicknamed Sugarman instead?.
The importance of names is introduced even before the first chapter. The epigraph emphasizes the point:The fathers may soar / And the children may know their names.? As the epigraph usually means to enlighten the reader somehow regarding the novel, I believe we are clued in here as to the value of knowledge of one's background or the family line as well as the importance of awareness, especially for the young, of family history and the pride one can find in it.