A Mercy Questions and Answers
by Toni Morrison

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What are major symbols , motifs, and images used in A Mercy ?

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In addition to the examples listed in the previous answer, shoes and feet become a motif throughout A Mercy, especially in relation to the character Florens.

When Florens is a child, she is "never able to abide not wearing shoes," never wants to be barefoot. This is literally and figuratively because she has not been toughened up by the world—her feet have not yet been toughened by the ground, and she is not yet hardened by the ways of the world. Lina tells Florens that her feet are "too tender for life."

Florens's mother has a negative reaction to her desire to wear a broken pair of heels thrown away by her mistress, because they are for "bad women." Here we can find a connection to Minha Mae's worry that Florens's maturing body will attract attention from people who would hurt her.

When Florens comes to the Vaarks' farm, Lina makes her a pair of rabbit skin shoes, the first pair of shoes Florens has ever had that fit her comfortably. This is symbolic of her transition into a new,...

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