This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Story of naming opens book.] Sugarman done fly away. Jumping from the roof of Mercy was the most interesting thing he had done. None of them had suspected he had it in him. Next day, first colored baby born inside Mercy [to Ruth, which means mercy]. When he learned at age four that only birds and airplanes could fly he lost all interest in himself. Called Ruth Foster’s son “deep.” Presence of Macon Dead. The secret power Rumpelstiltskin had given her. [R is tale of power by naming.] These afternoons were strange and wrong, thinks MM. Freddie sees boy suckling. He found the phrase he’d been searching for. “A milkman. That’s what you got here, Miss Rufie. A natural milkman if ever I seen one. Look out, womens. Here he come. Huh!” 15 Freddie carried his discovery not only into the homes in Ruth’s neighborhood, but to Southside, where he lived and where Macon Dead owned rent houses. So RUth kept close to home…to keep from hearing that her son had been rechristened with a name he was never able to shake and that did nothing to improve either one’s relationship with his father. 15 15 15 15 Macon Dead never knew how it came about—how his only son acquired the nickname that stuck in spite of his own refusal to use it or acknowledge it. It was a matter that concerned him a good deal, for the giving of names in his family was always surrounded by what he believed to be momumental foolishness. No one mentioned to him the incident out of which the nickname grew because he was a difficult man to apporach. Macon Dead neither visualized Ruth’s sudden terror, her awkward jump from the rocking chair, the boy’s fall broken by the tiny footstool, or Freddie’s amused, admiring summation of the situation. 15 Without knowing any of the details, however, he guessed, with the accuracy of a mind sharpened by hatred, that the name he heard schoolchildren call his son, the name he
overheard a ragman use when he paid the boy three cents for a bundle of old clothes— he guessed that his name was not clean. 15 15 15 17 Milkman. It certainly didn’t sound like the honest job of a dairyman, or bring to his mind the cold brigh cans standing on the back porch, glittering like captains on guard. It sounded dirty, intimate, and hot. He knew that wherever the name came from, it had something to do with his wide and was, like the emotion he always felt when thinking of her, coated with disgust. So if the people were calling his son Milkman, and if she was covering her eyelids and dabbing at the sweat on her top lip when she heard it, there was definitely some filthy connection and it did not matter at all to Macon Dead whether anyone gave him the details or not. 17 17 Sonny’s Shop is MD’s Office. He walked there now…thinking of names. Surely, he thoughtm he and his sister had some ancestor, some lithe young man with onyx skin and legs as straight as cane stalks, who had a name that was real. 1718 A name given to him at birth with love and seriousness. A name that was not a joke, nor a disguise, nor a brand name. But who this lithe young man was, and where his cane stalk legs carried him from or to, could never be known. No. Nor his name. 18 18 18 His own parents in some mood of perverseness or resignation had agreed to abide by a naming done to them by somebody who couldn’t have cared less. A literal slip of the pen… Macon Dead who begat a second Macon Dead who married Ruth Foster (Dead) and begat Magdalene called Lena Dead and First Corinthians Dead and (when he least expected it) another Macon Dead, now known to the part of the world that mattered as Milkman Dead. 18 He had cooperated as a young father with the blind selection of names from the Bible for every child other than the first male. And abided by whatever the finger pointed to, for he knew of every configuration of the naming of his sister. 18 19 19 19 19 23 23 Pilate’s name looked strong. You can’t name the baby this. Like a riverboat pilot? No. Like a Christkilling Pilate. You can’t get much worse than that for a name. Pilate, at age 12, takes name from Bible and wraps it in ear. Dr Foster tells Macon Dead II, I don’t know anything about you, other than your name which I don’t like. Freddie was as much a towncrier as Southside had.
24 28 35 38 38 38 38 40 42 42 43 45 45 52 53 53
Porter on roof. Pisses on people. Pilate, Reba [for Rebecca], and Reba’s daughter, Hagar. MM pisses on sister. Guitar and MM at Pilate’s. “Ain’t but three deads alive.” MM wonders why he was so defensive about his name. He hated his name and until he and Guitar became friends, he hated his nickname too. As if having the same name was a matter of deep personal pride. P tells MM about MD I’s death; We left Circe’s big house. Guitar: Who shot your daddy? I just know what I’m telling you: What, when, and where. [not who.] I’d know her ribbon color anywhere, but I don’t know her name. Guitar’s name. Desire as child. Reba wins things. Lincoln’s Heaven: farm. Animals named after civil war figures. MD II says everything bad happened to Papa b/c he couldn’t read. Wrote one word in his whole life. Pilate’s name. That’s what she’s got folded up in that earring. Story of Macon Dead’s name. He asked Papa where he was born. He said Macon. He asked who his father was. Papa said, He’s dead. They met on a carriage. When she looked at his paper she read him out what it said.
54 55 67 70 71 77 81 82 82 84 88 88 89
Mama liked the name. Said it was new and would wipe out the past. Wipe it all out. Own things. Then you’ll own yourself and other people too. Anna Djvorak doesn’t even know your name. She called you Dr Foster’s daughter. You by yourself aint’ nobody. You your daddy’s daughter. MD II to MM: If you want to be a whole man you have to deal with the whole truth. Naming by picking a word blind. MM remembers origin of name. [Name is attached to shame, incest.] Freddie: Dead man ain’t no man. A litany of personal humiliation, outrage, and anger turned sicklelike back to themselves as humor. Trade tales of atrocity. They laughed…about…the ruse they had invented to escape or decrease some threat to their manliness, their humanness. MM to Guitar: How come they call me MM? MM: No, I don’t like my name. G: Niggers get their names the best way they can. MM: Sweet Hagar. Wonder what her name is.…I mean her last name. Her daddy’s name.
89 124 146 147
You know how my old man’s daddy got his name?…Cracker gave it to him.…And he took it. Like a fuckin sheep. Pilate was the one who brought you here in the first place. Pilate had learned, whenever she was asked her name, to give only her first name. The last name had a bad effect on people. Naming of Rebecca, born on an island. P chooses R from oral list. “Nice sounding.” [Refutes point that their chosen for looks, and therefore not eligible for semantic analysis.] Reba’s father is island man.
148 149 155 160 161 165 166 180 192 197 207 208 Part 2 229 231 232 235 235 237 241 243 243 244
Father comes, “Sing, Sing.…You can’t just fly off and leave a body.” Circe brought her cherry jam. The Seven Days [African names.] G: I don’t give a damn about names. Guitar is my name. It’s part of who I am. Slave names don’t bother me; but slave status does. I’m the Sunday man. MD II says Pilate’s a snake. Circe, the midwife who delivered them both. He’d alway believed his childhood was sterile, but the knowledge macon and Ruth had given him wrapped his memory in septic sheets. MichaelMary Graham charmed by the sound of Corinithians Dead. She was First Corinthians Dead… Pilate refers to imagined husband as “Mr Solomon” b/c he was such a dignified colored man. Pilate: Papa told me to sing, sing. MM reveals himself to Reverend Cooper as son of Macon Dead. Cues stories, exchanges. MM felt glow listening to Rev’s story. Circe worked for the Butlers who killed MD I. Old men talked on and on, using MM as the ignition which gunned their memories. Farm says, never mind you can’t read, never mind you lost your name. Rev’s Cooper’s newphew, called Nephew. Circe. Grandman (Sing) looked white, but was mixed Indian. Her name was Sing. Sing made MD I keep name. Her people were from Culpeper, Charlemagne or something like that. [Meaning Solomon or Shalimar.]
248 260 261 262 264 264 267 266 266 274 279 283 283 284 285 287 289 289 290 290 293 294 294 297 301 302 303 303 304
MD’s real name was Jake, says Circe. Solomon’s General Store, Shalimar, VA. The man pronounced it Shalleemone. Guitar looking for MM. Didn’t say MM’s name or his own. Kids singing: Jay the only son of Solomon, Come booba yalle… Singing: “Twentyone children the last one Jay.” MM fights with men. He hadn’t found them fit enough or good enough to want to know their names, and believed himself too good to tell them his. Solomon breaks up fight. “Saul! Saul!” Ryna’s Gulch is up ahead. Guitar tries to kill MM. “Your Day has come.” G subsumed in identity of Day. Pilate Dead. Sounds like a newspaper headline. She do any flying? Vernell remembers name Sing, since the name is so pretty and her Gran used to play with her. She was a Byrd. One of old Heddy’s children. One of Susan Byrd’s people. Her smile was just like her name, Sweet. Macon meets Susan Byrd and Grace Long. Grace: Your mother was named Sing, wasn’t she? [Susan says, no, it was my father’s sister. The names interfere with her story, as she wants it to be known.] Susan: My mother’s name was Mary. GL: See what your friend’s hide from you? I bet she’d hide you, too.” MM ignores her. Susan’s family passing for white. And whoever she was, why did she want her husband to keep that awful name? To wipe out the past? What past? Slavery? She was never a slave. His slave past? Maybe the ghost was just repeating his wife’s name: Sing. After she died, MD wouldn’t let anybody speak her name. After he died, that’s all he ever said—her name. Guitar to MM: Your name is Macon, but you ain’t dead yet. Children sing, “Solomon don’t leave me here.” MM connects names of Solomon and Ryna, Leap and Gulch in the woods. MM memorized all of what they sang. Heddy was Susan Byrd’s grandmother on her father’s side, and therefore Sing’s mother too. Red man’s house is reference to Byrds as Indians. Crowell Bird is Crow, Susan’s father.
304 304 316 317 318 321 321 322 322 323 323 324 328 328 329 329 329 329 329 330 330 331 332 333 334 334 335 335 336 337
They had mixed their Indian names with Americansounding names. [Thus confusing the stories.] Solomon and Ryna were lovers. Hagar dies. Pilate burst in, “I want mercy.” Winos come in to pay respect to “Pilate’s girl.” Pilate calls her, “My baby girl.” Susan says Jake and Sing left together. Susan lied in front of Grace b/c G carries stories all over the county. Susan says, Jake was a baby Heddy found. He grew up with Sing. Solomon flew back to Africa. Left everybody, wife, twentyone children. Ryna screamed for days after S flew away. Solomon lifted up Jake, trying to take him with him, but dropped him on the porch where Heddy found him. Didn’t return it to Ryna b/c R was out of mind. Those must have been some bad times back then. Its a wonder anybody knows who anybody is. My greatgrandaddy could fly, he tells Sweet. Who’d he leave behind. MM thinks of self telling story to everyone. Read the roadsigns with interest now, wondering what lay beneath the names. Under the recorded names were other names. Names that had meaning. When you know your name youshould hang onto it. With Not Doctor Street, they were paying respect to whatever it was that made him be a doctor. He thought of names…Names they got from yearnings, gestures, flaws, events, mistakes, weaknesses. Names that bore witness. Macon Dead,…QuackQuack,…Jelly Roll,…Gatemouth.…Guitar. Pilate! Have I got stuff to tell you! P tosses MM in cellar. You can’t just fly on off and leave a body. You’ve been carrying your father’s bones. MM takes box of Hagar’s hair. MD II liked the story and the fact that the places were named for his people. Pilate and MM go to bury MD I in Shalimar. Pilate removes name from ear, is shot. Pilate dies as MM sings the song of their people. Bird swoops down, picks up her name. Flies away. If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.
Names in Literature Grace AlvarezAltman, ed. “The Names of Slaves and Masters: Real and Fictional” Murray Heller 171 172 William Wells Brown. Slave Narrative. Thus every personal name used by the artist is a new name, invested with the spirit of the artist’s creativity. That the name carries with it prior energy generated by the lexicon is true for all lexical items, and it is the creative act which informs the word or the name with new energy, new meaning. 172 Not only is it true that an artist will create a character complete with a personality, a body, and a name; it is just as true that an artist will create a name and insist upon his character living up to its name. 174 Narrative. A young nephew of Brown’s owner arrives. “When this boy was brought to Dr Young, his name being William, the same as mine, my mother was ordered to change mine to something else. This, at the time, I thought to be one of the most cruel acts that could be committed upon my rights; and I received several whippingsfor telling people that my name was William.” 174 174 174 Though young, I was old enough to place a high appreciation upon my name. “So I was not only hunting for my liberty, but hunting for a name.” Brown’s benefactor, a Quaker: “Since thee has got out of slavery, thee has become a man, and men always have two names.” William the takes the name of this good man. He becomes forever William Wells Brown. “And the Children May Know Their Names: Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon” Ruth Rosenberg 215 SoS subverts expectation. Black use of white Book. By stressing the selfreferentiality of her names, she protects the integrity of her fiction. It can only be explicated on its own terms, not on ours. [Is Bible a “white” and exclusively white Book? Selfreferential, yes, but also appeals to old mythic traditions.] 215 215 217 The names are “lexically opaque” b/c they were “picked blind.” Author’s maternal grandparent’s named they daughter Rahmah this way. Rahmah “was an aesthetic choice, determined only by the shape of the word, not by its connotations.” The theme of the novel is that a human being can transcend his circumstances. [Is this what MM does?] Pilate’s “impossible, crossgender name” which “she wears…as an
ornament. She rises, in serene selfpossession, above the murderous associations of her name.” 217 The names Magdalene, First Corinthians, Reba (Rebecca) and Hagar “were chosen not for their sound, but for their shape on the page, they cannot be semantically analyzed.” [Troublesome assumption that sound is more important than shape. Or that characters’ motivations for selection of names stands above authorial purpose.] 217 217 219 To objection on “Pilate,” MD says “That’s where the finger stopped” as though great force had been responsible. At emancipation, Jake Solomon had been recorded as “Macon Dead” through clerical error. MD II says names should be given at birth with “love and seriousness” other names (long list) come from “yearnings, flaws, events, mistakes weaknesses.” Tradition versus arbitration. 219 219 219 219 219 220 220 221 222 222 223 224 Dillard 20 25 27 29 Hagar Departure means new name in Africa. Creole names given from event or action of feature of appearance. Teacher in Manhattan junior high assaulted b/c he wouldn’t use names students considered their own. “These are names not to live up to but names to live down.” Names are caricaturing, and in that sense dehumanizing. The lack of a surname indicates marginality. Milkman’s retarded maturing becomes a metaphor for the condition of the Colored man in the first half of this century. Fourth class of names, Black Miilitants. Guitar evolves into “The Sunday Man.” Guitar gives up last name (Baines) b/c that was slave master’s name. As MM reclaims Solomon name, he enjoys walking earth as if his legs were stalks. Recovering that name has effected a kind of reincarnation. Absence of names in first chapter. Pilate is singing woman, Mrs Baines is stout woman, Ruth Foster is dead doctor’s daughter, and Guitar is described by eyes. “Buckra” in MM’s singing to dying Pilate is never decoded. Paradigm from dominance of oral name over written, is embedded in discussion of Doctor/Mains street, and manifests as Solomon over Macon Dead. Pilate like trees. Lack of names precipitates fight at Solomon’s store.
Jazz names from attricutes or events. Jelly Roll Morton formerly Ferdinand La Menthe, then Winding Ball or Winding Boy, then Jelly Roll Morton, from mugging with comedian claiming to be Sweet Papa Cream Puff.
Fisherman shift names of craft to trick forces of evil.
Toni Morrison’s World of Fiction Karen Carmean 46 46 46 46 47 47 47 Epigraph introduces to most significant themes: flight and naming. Meaning of novel’s title. Union of Solomon to black, yet comely maiden. [Consider Hagar, and tradition.] Morrison consciously draws upon all these cultural and historical allusions and adds still more. African mythology of Pilate’s name: Tree as protector. Pilate pilots MM to true heritage. “Riverboat Pilate” Pilot of River Styx, land of Dead. [Remember Circe.] Other biblical names more in keeping with characters but never in a completely literal form. Ruth is follower. Most appropriate is name Hagar. Outcast by Abraham and Sarah. Suggestive names: Circe and Sweet. Others inaccurate or misplaced, Macon Dead and Sing. [Sing, though, is mother of Pilate who sings in first chapter.], emphasizing the importance of learning the true name. 47 47 Readers of classical literature might recall how often a true name provides the key to personal power and freedom, just as it will for MM. For AfricanAmericans, the issue of names/identity/heritage may be infinitely complicated by the loss of an original family name, use of a former owner’s name (an owner who might also be family), illiteracy, and or clerical errors. 47 47 47 47 MM sees importance of names. Names that bear witness. MM’s name is a kind of demeaning joke. Embellishes it with meaningless conquests. Recorded names hid from view real names of people.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary F.N. Peloubet, Ed. First Corinthians
Hagar (means flight). Hagar fled after she conceived and Sarah reproached her. H imagines superior white woman and takes flight. Ishmael born of Hagar. When Ishmael was about sixteen years old, he was caught by Sarah making sport of her young son Isaac at the festival of his weaning. Sarah demanded the expulsion of Hagar and her son, Ishmael.
274 519 555 573 593 643 105
Jacob. The second son of Isaac (Sarah’s son) and Rebekah. On flight, he wrestles with God and his name changed to Israel (Prince that prevails with God). Pilate (armed with a spear) [As with knife incident]. Pilate kills self after sent to Rome to answer for mistakes. Rebecca (Rebekah). Married to Isaac. Story of Marriage, Gen 24. Ruth. Linked to Christ, genealogically. First husband named Mahlon, second is Boaz. Son is Obed, born in Book of Ruth (459). Saul (Desired). “Struggle between the old and new systems in which he found himself involved. Solomon (Peaceful). Solomon, David’s last son. Song of Solomon (Canticles). “The dramatic evolution of a simple love story.” “The victory of humble and constant love over the temptations of wealth and royalty.” [Love of story and family over love of gold.]
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.