A hero is a person who is always admired for their noble qualities, outstanding achievements, or for their courage. In the culture of every person, different stories are often passed down to different generations at specific times regarding different people. However, according to the society, a hero is a person who is never defeated, always makes the right choices, has supernatural powers and can use them in defeating people greater than him easily. Therefore, various collective fictions are wrapped by Toni Morrison, from riddling the nursery rhymes to discovering the identity of a person through his folktales. Milkman is regarded as the hero in this novel because his origin was always preceded by challenges such as secret intercourse, prolonged bareness, or continence of his parents because of external obstacles or prohibitions.
As the story begins, Toni Morrison states that "the son of the king (Milkman's father) is the hero as his parents are always distinguished" (Morrison 3), which depicted that Milkman was born to be a hero according to the traditional myths. A suicidal leap also heralded the birth of Milkman from the roof of Mercy Hospital by an insurance salesperson in blue wings who landed on a snow-blanketed pavement and a velvet strewn that was rose-petalled. The song of Pilate of Sugarman accompanied the man's flight, and Milkman became the first black kid who was born in Mercy (Brenner 3). Therefore, according to the novel, a hero is already presented through the actions that take place during his birth.
The birth of Milkman was once prophesized, and in his call to adventure, he existed in a dull familiarity state. Milkman was presented with information that beckoned him to venture to the unknown. The identity of Pilate was never known when Milkman was still in the womb. He was being called to the adventure that was his identity quest through evoking the traditional black flight folklore through the song. Moreover, the song of Pilate to Milkman is an adventure call as it suggested to Milkman before he was born that "there was a world outside where he would explore, in the Mundane where flying was possible" (Wehner 110). These words of Pilate depicted Milkman as the hero who needed to explore different parts of the world even where the impossible would be possible. Additionally, there is the ride of the airplane which exhilarated Milkman in his call to adventure. He had a feeling of invulnerability as well as encouraging illusion as he went high above the clouds. According to Milkman, it was not possible for him to believe whether he had made a mistake in his life following his experience with Cruise, the pilot (Brenner 10).
In most cases, when a hero receives adventure calls, he often rejects the opportunities due to fears and insecurities. When Milkman was four years old, he discovered the same thing that Mr. Smith had learned prior; that "only airplanes and birds can fly," which made Milkman lose interest in himself. As depicted in Morrison's Song of Solomon, living without some specific gifts saddened Milkman which left him with a bereft imagination that he always looked dull even to the people who loved his mother (Morrison 9). Nonetheless, despite the call of Pilate to the black folklore world where flying was possible, Milkman was always grounded in a reasoning world considering the impossibility of humans to fly. His thoughts were impoverished, and he lost connection to his black forefathers and ancestors as well as his traditional view of having the ability to fly. Therefore, his heroism is depicted when he turned down Pilate's call to adventure by refusing to imagine beyond the scope of the world of Mundane into which he was born. Another incident came in during his four-day stay in Reverend Cooper's house (Wehner 110). He waited for his car to be ready for four days as a guest in Cooper's house and therefore, he had to conduct long visits to every old man in the town who could remember his grandfather or father. The people whom he visited repeated the same story he knew as they only talked about "how beautiful and pretty the heaven of Lincoln was" (Morrison 234). The words at some point made Milkman begin missing his grandfather due to his perfect actions that pleased the society.
Once a hero is committed to his journey, his supernatural assistant will always appear to be conscious or unconscious. Milkman's first supernatural aid was Pilate who showcased that his "stomach was as sturdy and smooth as his back, where the navel did not interrupt any place" (Morrison 27). People were more convinced through the absence of the navel that Milkman came through Mercy; he did not come to the world via normal channels which depicts him as a true hero. The other supernatural aid was Circle where Blatantly could tell Milkman always "to pay attention to people, that his ear was connected to his head and not his brain" (Morrison 247). The reason was that he was destined to be a hero from his birth and the people whom he was going to meet were to offer him the best advice to follow. Nonetheless, Circle was too old to stay alive, but Milkman managed to meet her in the old house of Butlers. At first, Circle mistook Milkman for Macon Jr. that made her provide Milkman with an advice and reality check. She assisted in restoring the belief of Milkman in the supernatural or majestic world that made him become a hero (Wehner 111).
The first threshold which was crossed was when Milkman hit Macon. As depicted in the novel, enormous responsibilities and infinite possibilities stretched out before Milkman. He was never prepared to accept the burden of the altar nor take advantage of the former as he valued his actions. Milkman had knocked down his father, and maybe there could have some new positions on the traditional chessboard (Morrison 68). Moreover, Milkman demonstrated his agency by acting on his own accord and freely that nobody could challenge him. The action was the first step towards his identity discovery because after knocking down Macon, he was freed from the limits of believing or respecting other people's expectations. He then proceeded to the uncharted territory of the unknown where his actions were the only bound to what was going to happen to him. Another incident was when Milkman crossed into the adventure, leaving behind all his limitations (Izgarjan 310).
He entered a world where there were ambiguous restrictions and rules. At one point, Circle told Milkman that "in case he came across a creek, he should cross it (Morrison 245), because for him to reach that point, he was already wet, and there was no need of turning back" (Morrison 249). Therefore, having remembered the words of Circle, Milkman decided to set off his search for the unknown cave despite him neither being prepared nor properly dressed. He was a hero who would accept situations the way they confronted him. Nevertheless, his golden watch was broken, and his shoes were ruined which made the journey more difficult (Gama 6). However, after overcoming the physical obstacles hastily and reaching his destination, he realized that he had wasted time thinking through his actions. He would have crossed the threshold easily.
Milkman diverged from his known world and self-understanding through entering a new world in the belly of the whale which proved his willingness to be transformed. The action is determined when Macon Dead narrates to Milkman his side of the story. He depicts that "it was always an exciting new thought train as he never imagined his mother as a separate individual who had a life that could not interfere with his own" (Morrison 75). The action showcases the respect that a person should always give to their mothers. When Milkman heard the story, he decided to undergo a transformation or a form of intellectual metamorphosis through recognizing and accepting his mother as a separate entity from himself. According to Milkman, he is a different and unique person who should not allow another person to dictate who he is, his beliefs, or his actions. Additionally, there is the incident of the cave which also depicts Milkman's transformation (Gama 6).
When he entered the cave, the absence of light blinded him. He stepped out of the cave and reentered while cupping his eyes. After some period, "he could differentiate between the wall of the cave and the ground. All his matches were wet, and he had no flashlight, and so he had to adapt to the darkness to complete his mission" (Morrison 251-252). The initial entrance of Milkman into the cave was unsuccessful, and he could not experience a primary change. His first loop is paralleled by the action around the Monomyth as well his lack of transformation. Symbolically, when he reenters the cave and realizes that he has to depend on his eyes adaption to see, he explores further into the unknown world as his eyes continue to adopt that makes him a hero in the end (Gama 6).
As a hero, there are always numerous tests that one should undergo and, in most cases, the hero must fail in at least one test. As Milkman began to see his identity solidifying, he had to overcome the challenge of being an independent person through accepting the reality of his identity. First, he had to confront the truth about Ruth and Macon without becoming angry. As depicted in Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, "if one wants to become a complete man, then he has to accept the truth" (Morrison 76). Morrison clearly states this as he knew that the truth hurts but eventually it would have helped the hero. Second, Milkman had to discover the meaning of his name to overcome trials. He stopped in his tracks and pretended to be dead as cold sweat rolled down his neck. Milkman imagined how his mother nursed him when he was old enough to stand and talk, where someone saw and made fun of it that gave him the "Milkman" name (Morrison 77-79). Lastly, there was the trial of walking alone against a crowd of people. He closed his eyes, and when opening them, every person was hurriedly walking against his direction, and the other side of the street had nobody.
Milkman experienced love which had augmented meaning and power. The connection was comparable with the unconditional love that a baby often feels for its mother. He first met Hagar with whom she was deeply in love with. "She was seventeen while he was only twelve, but she constantly kept teasing him, ignoring him and babying him and Milkman was always grateful for what she did" (Morrison 92). Therefore, the love of Milkman for Hagar took hold of him which allowed Hagar to be a Goddess in his life. However, Hagar seemed to be always subtracting from the agency of independence for Milkman that made him think of separating from her. On the other hand, Milkman also met Sweet whom "he rubbed and soaped her until her skin glistened and squeaked like an onyx" (Morrison 285).
Milkman could be seen washing her hair, sprinkling powder on her feet, massaging her back and straddling her behind. Sweet also could wash and iron Milkman's clothes, wash the dishes and when Milkman gave her fifty dollars, "she kissed his mouth while touching her face" (Morrison 285). The relationship of Milkman with Sweet was different from other numerous relationship he had had as he could assist Sweet in her house chores. Also, Morrison compares and contrasts the relationship of Milkman with Hagar to that of Sweet through Milkman's interaction with the face of Sweet. Thus, the metamorphosis of Milkman is highlighted as well as the role of Sweet as his Goddess is solidified (Izgarjan 311).
Milkman confronted and accepted any force that represented the major power in his life. As depicted in the novel, "the quest's midpoint is always the paternal figure force," which is the story of Macon. He could narrate to Milkman how he was a young boy on the farm, about his father gett...
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Research Paper on Heroic Tales: Admirable Qualities, Outstanding Achievements, Courageous Deeds. (2023, Jan 11). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/research-paper-on-heroic-tales-admirable-qualities-outstanding-achievements-courageous-deeds
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