A Mercy

We’re All in This Together: The Importance of Community as Demonstrated by Sorrow in 'A Mercy' 11th Grade

In the stereotypical high school hierarchy, jocks always reign over the band kids, theater geeks, and math geniuses. These athletic students separate themselves from the others, and as this occurs, the geeks, nerds and other social pariahs must choose between two options: to remain alone, or to seek the support of others. In general, those who select the former are bullied—so most choose the latter choice. A similar situation arises in A Mercy. Sorrow, a mixed character, finds herself estranged from her black, native, and white counterparts. Rather than going it alone, she takes on the world with Twin, and later her daughter, by her side and survives in a hostile post-colonial America. By including Sorrow in the narrative, then, Morrison exemplifies the importance of community in increasingly alienated populations.

Communities help people maintain their sense of identity, just as Twin and her baby do for Sorrow. After she washes ashore, Sorrow begins her new life in the sawyer’s house, where the housewife names her Sorrow. Although Morrison notes that Sorrow had a different name on the ship, she also mentions that “she did not mind when they called her Sorrow so long as Twin kept using her real name” (116). The Oxford English...

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