A Mercy

I began reading A Mercy, by Toni Morrison. I carried it around with me for weeks, and it also took me a couple weeks of seeing it at the grocery store to buy it. I saw Beloved, which was horrid in what was once so common. I generally don’t read anything detailing slavery. I know what happened, and know we need to remember, but I really, really don’t want the brutality taking root in my head where I can’t shake images or invisible people and their absolute helplessness and agony out.

A Mercy was pinned as a mother daughter thing, stemming from a horrible sacrifice the mother had to do. I can’t imagine motherhood, of all things, being stripped from you without a care. To have no control over the fate and welfare of your children, and know without any doubt whatsoever before they’re even born, that their life will be beyond nightmarish.

But the book goes deeper than just slavery, which is what drew me in completely. The sheer hypocrisy of humanity, of religion, of relationships between men and women- it was against the law to beat your wife after 9pm, unless you did it without anger and had good cause? If she’s not your wife, well, sucks for her. How devout Christians were only those who were greedy with lust over any torture, dismemberment, and execution, and only godless heathens had the audacity to bathe every day. How did we ever survive, and wipe out so many better civilizations? How did women ever survive? I remember staring in shock at the nuns all through grade school, feeling betrayed by them that they would preach how women are the root of evil because some unknown man wrote a book (the bible), and said Eve was humanity’s destruction, and poor stupid Adam was a victim.  Religion is a touchy thing, so I’ll leave off on that subject.

Toni Morrison’s manner of writing (for the main character) took a while to get into the flow of, but once I did, it was so exceptionally poetic. There’s barely any speaking, it’s all the internal dialogues of several key characters. As she’s won the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes, it gives me a little more hope for my own style, that my stories will find people who will flow directly into them. Especially as my underlying current is the same as hers: mothers and daughters, women and men and the disturbing back lashes that occur when the balance between those goes awry.

I am relieved that I don’t live in that period of time, but I’m not always sure we’ve advanced very far.


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