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Summary of A Mercy by Toni Morrison

            Toni Morrison's "A Mercy," was published in 2008, and takes place during the late-seventeenth century. Morrison illustrates the New World during the early days of slave trade. More specifically, using the characters, she explores the complexities of the New World, which was characterized by slavery, love and betrayal. The novel opens up with a first-person narrative by Florens, a teenage slave. It is followed by a different character in a third-person narrative. Each of the characters has a third-person narration about their personal history and their life with Florens. By using this complex narrative structure, Morrison shows the reader the happiness, sufferings and desire of freedom of each character through the narration of the other characters. Through these narrations of different perspectives, the voices weave together weave together to portray slavery, love and betrayal.
             Instead of simply portraying slavery in black-and-white terms of racial tension, A Mercy shows slavery in different forms. Sorrow is a mongrelized slave, Lina is a Native American slave, Florens is an African American slave, and Willard and Scully are white indentured servants. Owning slaves during that period was considered a status symbol. The D'Ortegas represented the stereotypical slaveholders back then, who were exceptionally cruel to their slaves, took advantage of them, and saw the slaves as property (Jennings). On the other hand, the Vaarks are represented as the good slave owners who believed all slaves or orphanages should be rescued (Miller 63). Since they had no children, most of their kindness and love was directed towards the slaves. This is the motivation as to why Florens' mother was willing to let Florens go to the Vaarks, because Florens would not be taken advantaged in the way she would at the D'Oretega household. When the blacksmith is hired, he symbolizes freedom. This blacksmith is the counterpart of Florens, who is a black man but has never been a slave before, and is paid for his work.

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