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Please give an analysis of A Mercy.

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susuali | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted March 14, 2012 at 12:40 AM via web

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Please give an analysis of A Mercy.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 14, 2012 at 2:59 PM (Answer #1)

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One helpful way of analysing this book would be through thinking about how the text represents slavery and freedom. Morrison presents us with a range of characters who are ostensibly servants in the Vaark household, and each of them enjoys differing extents of freedom and slavery. For example, Sorrow, because of her "mongrelized" status, is a character who nobody considers to be black. However, she is still a servant who can be sold and who does not receive a wage. Florens is the only slave who is considered to be black, and this is paralleled by the experience of the blacksmith, who has never experienced life as a slave at all. Morrison therefore examines the vast differences within what we think of as being a very discrete definition of slavery. Morrison thus could be said to problematise slavery, helping us to see that within that term there were actually many different forms or levels of slavery.

Another helpful way of analysing this text is through the relationship of literacy to slavery, and how freedom can be gained, metaphorically or otherwise through writing. Florens is a slave who is literate, but she has only acquired this skill at great risk to herself. She, at the close of the book, writes herself out of the room where she is placed, as she narrates her story on the walls of the new mansion where she is. This strongly suggests that being able to express who you are and your story in written form is linked to finding freedom.

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