In Song of Solomon, how do secrets affect Milkman's life?
Milkman Dead experiences secrets in his family throughout his life. He finds it difficult, sometimes impossible, to reconcile what he sees and knows with the conflicting stories he hears. Because of this, he finds it difficult to trust anyone in his later life, and constantly second-guesses himself and others, refusing to allow anyone to get close to him. One good example is the story that his father tells him about his mother, a story exaggerated to place her in a bad light. She refutes the story later, and Milkman can't decide what to believe:
If he wanted me to lay off, he thought, why didn't he just say that? Just come to me like a man and say, Cool it. And I'd say, Okay, you got it. But No. He comes to me with some way-out tale about how come and why.
(Morrison, Song of Solomon, Google Books)
This keeps him from developing a close relationship with his family, and so he doesn't discover the truth about his family roots until much later, when it is too late to make a difference in his life. Much of the trouble he encounters is in refusing to trust people; he also manages to connect with the wrong people, like a murdering friend and a manic-depressive lover who turns violent.