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Motif of Flight in Song of Solomon

            Throughout the book, Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison, the image of flight is a major symbol. It signifies true life and the living of it, as well as a sense of freedom, of release, and touches the lives of all the main characters in the book, as it is a part of the Deads family history. But the most affected is Milkman, who embarks on a journey of self-discovery, and discovers this true meaning of flight. .
             The first instance of Morrison's use of the image of flight is at the very beginning of the book. "At 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 18th of February, 1931, I will take off from Mercy and fly away on my own wings. Please forgive me. I loved you all. Robert Smith, Ins. Agent" (p 3) Smith is unable to take the pressure of his life any longer and longs for an escape. He finds that escape in flight with blue silk wings, however short-lived it is, and the death following it. Before his death, he was one of the Seven Days, the small group of men devoted to keeping the balance of blacks and whites equal, which is one of the causes of his desire for an escape from life. As he says in his note, he had become one of the Seven Days for love of black people, not for any hate of whites. While the first image does not seem consistent with the images following it, this first use of flight opens the rest of the story to the symbol. Also, it shows that having the joy of flying brings risks, including that of death, as well as freedom. Milkman, born Macon Dead, the third to bear that name, is born the day after Smith's flight off Mercy Hospital and is the one most affected by the image of flight presented in the book, even from his infancy. " When the little boy discovered, at four -that only birds and airplanes could fly-he lost all interest in himself. To have to live without that single gift saddened him and left his imagination so bereft ." (p 9) For Milkman, the loss, or lack of the ability, of flight is a loss, or lack, of life and of living.

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