A Mercy – Toni Morrison

To be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.

Toni Morrison, A Mercy

In A Mercy, Toni Morrison writes the story of a young girl, Florence, who grows up as a slave, and has an intense vulnerability to the people she loves. Only at the end of the book do we truly understand the nature, and the cause, of Florence’s psychic wounds. If Beloved famously, and perfectly, explored the mind of a mother who had lost a child, A Mercy explores a child who’s lost her mother.

This one doesn’t seem to get much critical attention compared to Beloved, and for good reason; Beloved has a force and power equaled by few, if any, other books in existence. A Mercy‘s protagonist is hard to understand because her need for love is so raw and overpowering, and because she seems to be somewhat of a mystery even to herself, she remained a mystery to me.

Still, for writing just as beautiful as any other Morrison work, and for its examination of Florence’s purity, which survives even the most corrupt possible world, the book was a powerful read.


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