A Mercy Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

A Mercy Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

White culture’s influence

Another common motif found in the novel is the idea that the white European population affected both the African slaves and the Native Americans in a negative way. The Africans were made to be slaves and obey their masters no matter the circumstances and the Natives were affected by the diseases brought into the New World. These diseases wiped out entire tribes of Natives and caused a lot of suffering and pain.

Symbol for sin

In the second chapter, it became clear that Jacob was obsessed with the idea of building a big mansion for himself. Jacob began building the house but he never got the chance to finish it as he died before it being done. Florens describes however the front gate and the two ornamental snakes on top of it. The snake is a symbol associated with sin since it is also the animal used by the Devil to convince the first couple to sin against God. Thus, the two snakes are used here as a symbol for the sins Jacob committed when he build his house.

Symbol for legacy

In comparison with other characters in the novel, Jacob and his wife had no children. Their children all died in their infancy from various causes and both Jacob and Rebekka would look with envy at the families who had children. The children symbolize here a person’s legacy and since Jacob and Rebekka could not have children, they build a house to be their legacy. The fact that Jacob died before the house could be built suggests that he left nothing behind, nothing to be remembers of.

Symbol for independence

When Lina talks about the Blacksmith, the first thing she mentions about him is how he did not shy away from looking Rebekka straight in the eye while the other slaves would avoid looking at a person directly. The reason behind this is that slaves have been taught that if they look at a person directly, then the action will be perceived as a sign of disrespect. This did not applies to the Blacksmith who was a free man and who, consequently, did not feel the need to obey the unwritten law.


One of the common motifs in the novel is the presence of shoes. Florens was obsessed with having shoes since she was working on the farm together with her mother. There, she would wear the shoes her master would throw away and this would make her feel like a lady and less like a slave. The shoes appear on numerous occasion in the novel and the obsession with shoes does not characterize only Florens but other characters as well.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.