Slavery And Racism In A Mercy By Toni Morrison

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Unlike other contemporary novels coupling slavery and racism, ‘A Mercy’ of Toni Morrison (2008) depicts the situation when slavery is deprived of its racial situation. In other words, by separating race from slavery, the novel gives audience a chance to see “what it might have been like to be a slave but without being raced” (Neary, 2008); and a chance to wonder whether it is the color itself or the colonial society dominated by patriarchal and imperial powers the reason for slavery in the final decade of the seventeenth century. The plot of the novel is constructed on scattered piecemeal narratives of traditionally ignored perspectives: white lower-class women, white servants, an abandoned white girl, and a black female slave. The physical…show more content…
At first, as victims of an economic system, all women in the novel come together at the Vaark farm via transactions: Lina is bought by Vaark; Rebekka becomes his wife through his funding an arranged marriage; Florens is acquired in the settlement of a debt; and Sorrow is given to Vaark free of charge to remove her from the sons of a local sawyer. During these transactions, these women are objectified and devaluated. . Female objectification and devaluation, for instance, can be seen through the journey to North America of Rebekka, the lesser of the evils for women whose life options consist of being “servant, prostitute, wife” (p. 78), often with little meaningful distinction between the three. Rebekka travels as a contracted bride, and her voyage is described through images equating women and animals: “More laughter loud enough to agitate the animals behind the planks that separated the women from the stock” (p.84).These transactions prove the fact that the economic inequities have played a role in objectifying human…show more content…
As for Sorrow, becoming mother reconstitutes in her woman’s humanity and encourages female empowerment, thus challenging oppressive social structures. As for Lina and Rebekka, they revise received theology and create their own syncretic theology. And for Florens, she represents another way to cope with trauma, using writing as a self-creating curative. At novel’s end, Florens scrawls her story into the wood of one of the rooms in Vaark’s unoccupied “mighty” house. On a larger level, the image of expansive words reflects the necessity for augmented origins stories. Narrative space must be made for those voices that once talked to and for themselves but have been muted by the historical record, and that is what A Mercy does. As Florens opens the novel with the entreaty “Don’t be afraid. My telling can’t hurt you” (p.3), and while this can be read as the beginning of a confession of heartbreak and anger, on a more metaphorical level it can be seen as an urging not to fear the telling of a broader, different American origins

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