Saturday, September 12, 2009


"A Mercy" by Toni Morrison
(from back cover)

In the 1680's the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in "flesh," he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Rejected by her mother, Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, and later from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes riding into their lives.
A Mercy reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart, like Beloved, it is the ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother and a daughter--a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a good book. It is told from the view of all the characters in the book. Jacob and his wife Rebecca, Lina, Sorrow, and Florens the slaves at the farm, and the indentured men loaned out to Jacob, Willard and Scully. This is also the time of church controlling the people, their thoughts and lives. Witchcraft and demons are also abundant. Lina is the more sensible of all the slaves. She is the oldest of them. Sorrow is a young girl coming into womanhood. She is attracted to the blacksmith. Which leads to her having a child. Florens is a very troubled child not knowing what is to become of her. And also The Pox is prevalent at the time. Which is thought to be the work of the devil. Babies and children die at a high rate. Rebecca has lost 3 infants and her oldest child dies from a kick from a horse. Which is believed that all these deaths are due to the children not being fully immersed in water and baptized. The last chapter of the book is Florens mother telling her why she let her be taken by Jacob. This is the last paragrah of the chapter, to me it tells the whole story. This is Florens mother talking.

It was not a miracle. Bestowed by God. It was a mercy. Offered by a human. I stayed on my knees. In the dust where my heart will remain each night and every day until you understand what I know and long to tell you: to be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominon of yourself to another is a wicked thing.
Oh Florens. My love. Hear a Tua Mae.

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