A Mercy Notes Essay

Words: 4957
Pages: 20

Some notes for Toni Morrison's novel A Mercy (2008) Part 1: Page and chapter numbers by day for the current edition we are using: Date
Old numbers
New Numbers
Day 30, Weds. 11/14/12
Day 31, Fri., 11/16/12
Day 32, Mon 11/19/12

Part 2: Chronology of Events
Before the story begins, the Blacksmith’s male line has passed down from father to son the art of smelting ore into iron in Africa in termite mines.
The Blacksmith may have been captured in pirate raids upon slave ships, and sold in the Americas as an indentured servant. His demeanor in the novel suggests that he was probably at least adolescent when captured, as he does not seem as alienated from his
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Puritan typology. Puritan writers saw the Old Testament as a series of prophecies, or types, fulfilled by events in the New Testament, and in their own lives as religious reformers. More loosely, Puritan writings were replete with meditations upon objects from the natural world teaching religious lessons; one of the most famous is the spider held above a fire in Jonathan
Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (1741). (For more on typology, see http://www.learner.org/amerpass/unit03/context_activ-3.html) “Praying savage” (in reference to Lina as both Indian and Christian)
A praying Indian, or praying savage, was a native person who had converted to Christianity, in
Notes, A Mercy, page 2

response to European proselytizing. As suggested by William Cronon (Changes in the Land), such conversions may also be seen as pragmatic responses to shifts in political power as more Europeans occupied and claimed exclusive ownership of land. While the term seems inoffensive enough today,
Morrison has changed the usual “praying Indian” to “praying savage”—suggesting that many contemporaries, such as Mary Rowlandson in her captivity narrative, did not believe the conversion a sincere one. Lack of sincerity, moreover, was not so much felt as an