Unlike Jadine, Son embraces the categories of race and gender, relishing the role of being a black man. He feels firmly connected to his hometown of Eloe, and he enjoys being defined by his blackness. Although Son sometimes acts like a chameleon, able to please a wide spectrum of people—from the white industrialist Valerian to the illiterate, black servant Thérèse—he feels most at home with people who share his traditional, “down home” background. He dislikes wandering, despite spending eight years traveling the world. Instead, he values a sense of place, home, and rootedness. His very nickname, Son, reflects his commitment to heritage and family.

Son literally sees the world in black and white terms. As far as he is concerned, blacks and whites can never mix, nor should they try to. Black people who assume white values, or who pursue relationships with white people (like Jadine), are ultimately traitors to their race. This view explains why Son sometimes has adversarial interactions with Sydney and Ondine, who work for Valerian, and why Son attacks Jadine after she defends Valerian. Morrison presents Son’s views sympathetically, but she does not encourage readers to subscribe to them; she insists only that readers understand why Son might feel this way. At the end of the novel, Son seems ready to retreat from the hard line he has taken throughout the novel, but it is not known which choice he ultimately makes: whether he stays on Isle des Chaveliers, joining up with a race of black people whose pure lineage stretches back to Africa, or whether he goes to find Jadine in Europe, thereby not only accepting her participation in white culture but also participating in it himself.