Toni Morrison is an American author, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She has written some of the acclaimed American novels including The Bluest Eye, Sula, and Song of Soloman. In her writing, she traverses the experience and roles of black women in a racist and sexist society. In A Mercy, her latest work, Morrison uses her storytelling to transports readers back to a time (1680s) in America when religion, class differences, prejudice and oppression were as familiar as American apple pie. That was a time in American history when the seeds of slavery and racism began to take root.
The novel centers around the decision of Jacob, an Anglo Dutch trader, who despite his revulsion to the business of slavery, accepts a young slave girl as payment on a debt. The decision to take Florens, the young slave girl "with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady" impacts the lives of other women living on Jacob's farm. There is Rebekka, Jacob's wife, who questions her God as she loses one baby after another to the harsh realities of the New World. A Native servant, Lina, a survivor of smallpox epidemic, who hungers for Florens's love to replace the family taken from her. And then there is Sorrow, a quiet black woman, who is a survivor of a terrible incident on a slave ship.
Use the following discussion questions to participate in our discussion:
Do you think Florens' mother showed her mercy by begging Jacob to take Florens?
How did the different viewpoints enhance the story?
Why do you think Rebekka started treating Lina and others badly after her illness passed?
What acts of mercy do the characters display?