In the novel Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison depicts the many aspects of self-actualization, as well as the tormenting road that leads to the shaping of an individual. Through literary devices such as irony, symbolism, and foreshadowing, combined with immense reality, Morrison is able to describe a young black man's journey as he uncovers his personal history, mythology, and essence. .
The story revolves around generations, past and present, of a black family in the south. The character of Milkman (Macon Dead jr.) evolves through the descriptions, events, and experiences of others. His parents, Macon Dead sr., and Ruth Foster Dead, represent the symbolic wall, blocking Milkman from his true identity. Many of Milkman's major problems are a direct result of his parent's suffocating mistakes. Ruth breast-fed Milkman until he was six years old, hence the name Milkman. She is sexually repressed by her husband for twenty years, and used her young son as a substitute for sexual intimacy. Ruth believesthat she was insignificant and isolated. By passing these negative attributes and emotions to Milkman she disturbed his natural process for growth, and ultimately left him feeling lost and insecure. Instead of encouraging Milkman to grow and mature, Ruth hoarded him into the world that she herself despised. .
Milkman's father, Macon Dead sr., became a ruthless money hound after his father, Jake, was shot and killed for his property. This devastating event from his childhood made him miserly, insensitive, and stingy. Macon Dead sr. becomes a money hungry machine because he does not want to suffer the same fate as his father. Macon Dead sr. fails to tell Milkman the reasons behind his miserly attitude. Thus creating an insurmountable gap between their relationship. Milkman's mother and father both thrust their personal fears on him adding to the destruction of his personal identity. Only after Milkman uncovers these tribulations behind his parents' identities, can he begin his quest for self-authenticity.