Journey Towards Home

Justin Kook


Below is the arrest warrant for Guitar Bains for murder of Pilate Dead, and attempted murder of Milkman Dead. Guitar was one of the main conflicts that inhibited Milkman's journey or quest to discover his heritage or home. Through Guitar, as he kills Pilate, Milkman is able to fly away, similarly to the song of Solomon where "sugarman" done fly away back home.

Family Heritage

Family Heritage

Family legends passed down through generations grow more incredible each time they are told. Sitting at my father’s feet listening to his tell of my grandfather, ManSoo Kook, I knew that story would never change. The ideal of it was too important to be stretched and exaggerated, too important to be tampered with for the sake of a happy tale.

My grandfather was born in 1932 in an era of peace in Korea. He lived in a small, rural community, Daejon, Korea where he owned a small farm. With freedom a great desire to succeed came to ManSoo. Money was not the important part of his dream. He wanted to raise his children with pride. He wanted them to be educated and have a chance to become what they wanted to be.

The farm was a success. One of ManSoo’s children died of smallpox. His remaining son, Samuel, went to school and grew up into an ambitious young man. But the dream of peace was dying as the tides of war swept in the 1950s. Korea was on a brink of war between North Korea and South Korea; ManSoo was constantly being hounded to sell his land and move to a safer location. With high hopes ManSoo traveled north with his son to help him establish a business in Seoul. He returned to Daejon to find that the lands were ravaged by the scars of war. The possible consequences of undiscovered landmines, the soil and land deforested and left barren, the great fires of gunfire and explosions left the land inhospitable to farming.

ManSoo learned to farm despite the circumstances, but that was not enough. Close by the courthouse his land was desirable property as his land was the few that was left mostly untouched by war. A victim of legal manipulations, he finally lost his land, forced to accept as compensation land on the outskirts of town. Deciding for a better future, ManSoo and his family moved to America; however, his ambition crushed.

America was not what he had dreamt it to be. There was a small Korean community of refugees that had gathered near Angel Island, CA where most of the Korean refugees from the Korean War had entered along with countless Chinese immigrants searching for gold/work. Living in the San Francisco bay was hard with the only English speaking person was his son, Samuel, that fortunately learned from attending university.

In hometown there was a sense of community amongst the neighbors but there was a sense of epiphany moving to a city, realizing that all the millions of people who lived here were strangers, and that one coming from a different country can never trust just anyone. The sense of security was broken completely. The people that were accustomed to a certain life style and were all of a sudden exposed to a different setting so many small Korean communities began to form as temporary sense of “home”.

There was a time when ManSoo went to a cafeteria and ordered a hamburger. He couldn’t understand what the cashier was saying because he spoke too fast. Perhaps he was speaking normally, and yet he felt that he was speaking too fast. So he kept nodding my head and answering “yes” to every question although he did not understand any of them. Then when he got the order, as he looked inside, there was a burger with only one layer of cheese in it and nothing else. That was literally an American “cheese” burger.

Then my grandfather decided to move to Hartwell, Georgia in order to return to the field of farming, what he was good at doing. Farming in America was quite different than Korea, as Daejon was near the coast with rice as the prime crop. However, in America, rice was difficult to cultivate and grow, so ManSoo had to learn to grow corn, grain, potatoes, and western staple crops. The technological advances in America were still too expensive for ordinary farmers to purchase such as tractors and heavy machinery and instead every family member helped out on the farm.

Interview Questions

1. What is your full name? Why did your parents select this name for you? Did you have a nickname?

2. When and where were you born?

3. How was life like in Korea during the Korean war?

4. How did your family come to live there?

5. How difficult was it to adapt to American culture and society? (English, foods, etc)

6. Which immigration port did you enter from? (CA, NY, etc)

7. How did you learn English?

8. Were there other family members in the area? Who?

9. Were there any special items in the house that you remember?

10. What is your earliest childhood memory?

11. Describe the personalities of your family members.

12. What kind of games did you play growing up?

13. What was your favorite toy and why?

14. What was your favorite thing to do for fun?

15. Did you have family chores? What were they? Which was your least favorite?

16. Who were your childhood heroes?

17. What were your favorite songs and music?

18. Did you have any pets? If so, what kind and what were their names?

19. How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?

20. Who were your relatives/siblings you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?

21. What do you know about your family surname?

22. Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?

23. What stories have come down to you about your parents? Grandparents? More distant ancestors?

24. Are there any stories about famous or infamous relatives in your family?

25. When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates?

26. What accomplishments were you the most proud of?

27. What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?


In the fictional book of Song of Soloman (1997), the Nobel prize winning author Tony Morrison portrays the character of Ruth Foster Dead as a subdued, quiet woman, a foil from the character of Pilate. Morrison asserts the subtle evasiveness of Ruth in the event of Milkman's birth, in collaboration with Pilate to fend off the threats of abortion from Macon Jr; however, half-agrees to reluctantly stick needles in her womb in order to save Milkman. Despite Macon Jr's growing anger over her "affection" for her father/son, Ruth continues to visit her father's grave and cares for her son Milkman, a passive independence. The stemming dependence of Pilate and others both financially and physically and her subtle passive submissiveness to Macon Jr's seething anger and force over her, conveyed by Morrion, serves a purpose in order to represent the unliberated woman's subtle independence who's goals are dictated by a patriarchal society - such as ours - in a seemingly assertive/straightforward tone, clawing away the hidden truths of gender inequality.

Love & Hate

Hate is a devotion to someone

To give them misery and help them realize their guilt

When they are full of happiness to none.

It is a strong relationship that is long built

that ignores and despises

But can potentially be the first step to understanding

Love is someone that makes you want to be with me

Love wonders about the many possibilities

Love hears the words of relationships

Love sees the hope of developing friendships

Love wants a future that you can see

Love is someone that makes you want to be with me

Love pretends to ignore the past and live carefree

Love feels the forgotten memories being unlocked with a key

Love touches the boundaries of dreams and reality

Love worries about the truth and tend to flee

Love cries for someone to be

Love is someone that makes you want to be with me

Hate may be short and bitter sweet, but may Love be long and forever free


Gold is usually the end, but it is the catalyst for the journey, or the start

Gold represents Macon Jr.’s obsessive pursuit of wealth. Gold is utterly irresistible to men in the novel, who violate their principles in order to get it. For example, Milkman robs his aunt, Pilate, because he wants to be wealthy and independent. Likewise, Guitar’s desire for gold motivates his attempted murder of Milkman. Finally, Macon Jr. spends a lifetime pursuing gold without any greater goal beyond accumulation.