A Feminist Approach
In A Mercy, Toni Morrison demonstrates how the female characters from the oppressive time of America’s infancy; unfortunately conform to the stereotypical roles that were cast upon them. Through love, mixed with subjugation and degradation, these women fall victim to a necessary dependence on the male figure in the lives. Because they become consumed with piousness and obedience; when disaster strikes, they wander downward into self-destruction without the guidance of male counterparts. This dependence is demonstrated by Rebbecka in her daily life. This is illustrated during the spring, one of her many duties was bathing him. When she concludes his washing, she wraps a cloth around to dry him and he departs. In contrast to her pampering, he does not attend to her. This indicates the subjugation she allows upon herself which she considers duty and is consistent with the highly patriarchal society of the time. After the death of Jacob, Rebbekah cannot develop a new identity as an independent individual. Rebbekah writes, “And a few, like herself, after a mutually loving relationship, became like children when the man was gone” (98). Without that overseeing authority of Jacob, she cannot function the way that she was habituated. Such persistent willingness for submission by women subconsciously dehumanizes them in the minds of the men as well as themselves. This started even before Rebbekah’s marriage when she is shipped oversees by her family to be wed to an unknown husband. Along this journey, as “soon as they were separated from the males (the women were)…. led to a dark space below next to the animal stalls." Such treatment was seen as a norm in a social order dominated by males. The mindset of these women is captured in Lina’s words that “We never shape the world….the world shapes us.” We learn that Lina is not respected by her lover and is instead inflicted with violence and...
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