A Mercy Questions and Answers
by Toni Morrison

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What is the significance of the title A Mercy in understanding the novel?

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While there are many examples within Toni Morrison's A Mercy, the most significant one in terms of understanding Florens and the hardship she goes through has to do with her mother's reasoning for sending her away with Jacob Vaark. Morrison initially portrays Florens as a slave abandoned by a mother who favored her baby brother. It appears there is no love in her life—not from her biological family or her fellow slaves, and certainly not from the Vaarks. This makes her life and the events she goes through seem devastating.

Throughout the novel, Florens wrestles with abandonment issues. First and foremost, she feels her mother preferred her baby brother to herself and assumes this to be the reason she was sent away. As time goes by, she grows closer to the other characters at the farm, though this is mostly out of necessity and circumstance. Additionally, the novel starts after her first real love interest, the Blacksmith, has already left "with no goodbye." When given an opportunity to...

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