Morrison portrays Jacob Vaark as a character who gives mercy freely to others throughout the book, but he himself is the recipient of mercy at multiple points in the story. Vaark is plucked from his degrading life in the poor house by a job offer from a prestigious law firm. In this way, he is able to change his station in life and develop a platform of wealth that he uses to help the disenfranchised. Jacob also experiences mercy when his mail-order bride turns out to be a compatible partner in life. While both Jacob and his bride took a risk in accepting the arrangement, he is rewarded with a companion who shares his burdens and his joys.
The primary mercy that Jacob receives is the fact that he did not survive to see the ruin of his estate. While the counterweight to this mercy is the fact that he did not survive to achieve the vast, wealthy mansion he had dreamed of building for so long, he died with the prospect of hope for what he left behind. As Jacob tells his wife, "What a man leaves behind is what a man is." At the time of his death, his wife was still well and there were many possibilities ahead of him, despite the tragedy in his past.