Morrison's novels, Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Tar Baby, reveal a unity and a consistency in her vision of the human condition. One particular preoccupation is with the effect of the community on the individual's achievement and retention of an integrated acceptable self. In treating this subject she draws recurrently on myth and legend for story pattern and characters, returning repeatedly to the theory of quest as a motivating and organizing device. .
The impact of the community on the individual's quest for self is one of the particular problems of Black women, and the laughter and pain which characterise the survival struggle of Black Americans. (Thus Sethe is destroyed by her memories and her isolation with the ghost of Beloved (haunted by slavery), until the community intervenes and saves her.) .
There are a number of similar themes which pervade the novels: in Song of Solomon, Milkman Dead's spiritual quest is part of an actual journey during which he must confront his past and his origins. (Compare with Paul D.'s need to confront his past, and Sethe's.) Finally he experiences a rebirth of the self rather than a terminal isolation in madness or death (as Sethe is reunited with Paul D. and is liberated from the horrors of her past.) .
(Incidentally, Milkman gets his name from the fact that his mother nursed him late into boyhood, from an emotional dependence, which points to the emblematic 'stealing of milk' from which Sethe suffers. and her desire and pride that she is able to keep her milk for her children.) See also, Therese, in Tar Baby, whose 'magic breasts' continue forever to give life-sustaining milk, who actively guides 'Son'.