Essay on Slavery and Racism in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy

Essay on Slavery and Racism in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy

Length: 2916 words (8.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Research Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

The study of African American history has grown phenomenally over the last few decades and the debate over the relationship between slavery and racial prejudice has generated tremendous amounts of scholarship. There’s a renewed sense of interest in the academia with a new emphasis on studies and discussions pertaining to complicated relationships slavery as an institution has with racism. It is more so when the potential for recovering additional knowledge seems to be limitless. Even in the fields of cultural and literary studies, there is a huge emphasis upon uncovering aspects of the past that would lead one towards a better understanding of the genesis of certain institutionalized systems. A careful discussion of the history of slavery and racism in the new world in the early 17th Century would lead us towards a sensitive understanding of the kind of ‘playful’ relationship African Americans have with notions pertaining to location, dislocation and relocation. By taking up Toni Morrison’s ninth novel entitled A Mercy (2008), this paper firstly proposes to analyze this work as an African American’s artistic representation of primeval America in the 1680s before slavery was institutionalized. The next segment of the study intends to highlight a non-racial side of slavery by emphasizing upon Morrison’s take on the relationship between slavery and racism in the early heterogeneous society of colonial America. The concluding section tries to justify “how’ slavery gradually came to be cemented with degraded racial ideologies and exclusivist social constructs which ultimately, led to the equation of the term ‘blackness’ almost with ‘slaves’.
According to Jeffrey Elton Anderson, one of the significant changes in the second half of the ...

... middle of paper ...

...Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for
Western Civilisation. New York: W. Morrow, 1928. Print.
Montagu, Ashley. Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race. 4th ed. Cleveland,
OH and New York: World Publishing, 1942. Print.
Morrison, Toni. A Mercy. UK: Vintage. 2009. Print.
Morrison, Toni. “Rediscovering Black History.” C. C. Denard. Ed. Toni Morrison. What Moves at the Margin. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 39–55. 2008 (1974). Print.
Morrison, Toni. “Toni Morrison in conversation with Fran Lebowitz”, live from New York, Public Library, 2008. Web 25 Feb 2009.
Morrison, Toni. “Toni Morrison Finds A Mercy in Servitude,” Interview by Michele Norris, NPR, Web. 27 Oct. 2008.
Rokosz-Piezko, El bieta. “Toni Morrison’s (Hi)storytelling – The Use of History in Paradise, Love and A Mercy.” Studia Anglica Resoviensia, ZESZYT 60, 76-82. 2009. Print.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analysis Of Toni Morrison 's ' Beloved ' Essay

- African American literature is literature written about the experiences that African Americans have gone through and their culture in history. This type of literature tends to focus on themes concerning the role of African Americans within society itself and issues of African American culture, equality, slavery, freedom, and racism. Beloved by Toni Morrison describes how one woman’s escape from slavery leads to enslavement of her spirit. In order to truly be free, Sethe and the other characters discover that they must release memories of the past or they will remain haunted by it....   [tags: Slavery, Atlantic slave trade, Racism]

Research Papers
1100 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Beloved by Toni Morrison, a Story of Heartbreak

- Beloved is a story of heartbreak, supernatural forces, and love and hate and the balance between them. Beloved is one of Toni Morrison’s most highly recognized pieces of literature. Morrison accomplishes so much in writing the story Beloved. Morrison does not attempt persuade readers with this story. Beloved is a ghost story among other things. Morrison’s found a way to describe racism and slavery from an African American standpoint without having to completely bash white people. Foreshadowing is a common theme that Morrison uses....   [tags: supernatural, slavery, racism]

Research Papers
574 words (1.6 pages)

Essay about Toni Morrison's Beloved - Bold but Unsuccessful

- The Bold but Unsuccessful Beloved Toni Morrison's fifth novel, Beloved, a vividly unconventional family saga, is set in Ohio in the mid 1880s. By that time slavery had been shattered by the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and the succeeding constitutional amendments, though daily reality for the freed slaves continued to be a matter of perpetual struggle, not only with segregation and its attendant insults, but the curse of memory. Morrison's heroine, Sethe, is literally haunted - by the baby daughter she killed in a gesture of terrible mercy, when threatened with recapture after her escape....   [tags: Toni Morrison Beloved Essays]

Research Papers
736 words (2.1 pages)

Toni Morrison Essay example

- Toni Morrison In the mid twentieth century, the Civil Rights Movement influenced African-American writers to express their opinions. Most African-American writers of the time discussed racism in America and social injustice. Some authors sought to teach how the institution of slavery affected those who lived through it and African-Americans who were living at the time. One of these writers was the Toni Morrison, the novelist, who intended to teach people about all aspects of African-American life present and past....   [tags: Biography Toni Morrison Author Essays]

Research Papers
1926 words (5.5 pages)

The Site Of Memory By Toni Morrison Essay

- Within "The Site of Memory", Toni Morrison highlights the continuous display of the black humanity through the history of Black literature and its 's social changing powers. She then goes on to explain the tools and techniques of doing so. Morrison even warns against the mixing of facts and truth. Finally, Morrison discusses what the site of memory really is and its spark to the imagination. Morrison starts by outlining the style and circumstances of these narratives, one to capture the historical personal life and account of racism, and two the move to persuade the probably non black reader of the humanity of the black people enslaved....   [tags: Black people, African American, Slavery, Art]

Research Papers
1350 words (3.9 pages)

The World Of Song Of Solomon By Toni Morrison Essay

- The world of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison is a place racism and inequality are predominant, affecting every character’s life in some significant ways. This world runs parallel to America in the twentieth century between 1930’s to the 60’s. Morrison illustrates this societal divided amongst racism in a mythical interpretation. She gives of a first person account of life for a relatively well off black man in the time and viewing the world through his lens allowing us to observe the effects of racism during this time period where racial tension were at a new turning point....   [tags: Black people, African American, Race, Racism]

Research Papers
1929 words (5.5 pages)

A Study of the Healing Process from Slavery and Racism Essay

- “A battle lost or won is easily described, understood, and appreciated, but the moral growth of a great nation requires reflection, as well as observation, to appreciate it.”-Frederick Douglass When you think of slavery, you may want to consider the effects of an earthquake because that’s how powerful it was. Like many earthquakes, slavery produced various damaging ramifications to everything around it. This included devastation to family structures and in worst cases the loss of human life; and without doubt slavery claimed the lives of many just as Harriet Jacobs expressed “I once saw a slave girl dying after the birth of a child nearly white....   [tags: Racial Relations, Slavery, Racism]

Research Papers
2560 words (7.3 pages)

Racism in Toni Morrison's Song of Solmon Essay

- Racism in Toni Morrison's Song of Solmon Milkman is born on the day that Mr. Smith kills himself trying to fly; Milkman as a child wanted to fly until he found out that people could not. When he found, "that only birds and airplanes could fly&emdash;he lost all interest in himself" (9). The novel Song of Solomon is about an African American man nicknamed Milkman. This novel, by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison was first published in 1977, shows a great deal of the African American culture, and the discrimination within their culture at the time Song of Solomon takes place....   [tags: Song of Solmon Essays]

Research Papers
1223 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about Beloved, By Toni Morrison

- In Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, which was written in 1987, she demonstrates the social divide between classes during the time of slavery through various experiences that the main character, Sethe, goes through. These experiences contain an abundance of imagery that allows the reader to get a deeper more visual look into the dehumanizing horrors of slavery that fail to be told and shown in History textbooks. In Morrison’s novel there appears to be a very evident pattern in what Sethe experiences as a black slave....   [tags: Social class, Sociology, Black people]

Research Papers
1178 words (3.4 pages)

Narrative Structures in Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Toni Morrison's Beloved

- Narrative Structures in Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Toni Morrison's Beloved The novels 'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith and 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison both explore many different issues. However, a principle theme that appears to be common in both is the way in which the past influences the present profoundly and both authors use the narrative structures of the books to present this idea to the reader. The exploration of the relationships between characters through time, the past haunting the present and the way in which history and culture is revealed through the past are important devices used to show the emotions and further the plot....   [tags: Smith Teeth Morrison Beloved Essays]

Research Papers
2803 words (8 pages)