Viewing Minor Characters in a New Light
In the novel A Mercy by Toni Morrison an, outstanding author, known as the scholar and theoretician of modern literature, suggests that a mother’s love can galvanize her to do an unbearable task of giving up her own daughter. In relation to the story Morrison gives us the plot in parts; the reader finally realizes that the main character’s mother simply gives her away for the purpose of a better lifestyle and the small work of literature that serves as A Mercy. The author uses every mishap in the book from switching to different point of views in the story, to telling the story out of chronological order, that way the reader must possess a certain strategy to configure the obscure the plot. Her central purpose though is to use the story as single metaphors too use the story to create a new sense on how a mother must think and act in a time of desperation. The way she attacks this new idea is in context of how she wrote the book, each line weaved into a perfect web, as an unpredictable way of habits that shape and blew the plot wide open with details as Floren’s backstory as well as the other characters. Morrison does not want to punish the audience with a sad story but regard the facts and bring truth to matter of slavery back in the 1600’s. In the novel A Mercy by Toni Morrison, every character plays a unique and significant role, no matter how negligible the character may seem.
Who are the “minor characters?,” Are they used to advance plot and change or alter the story line or are they an insight to the author’s guide to manipulate the character from minor to major. First plot reconciles the story making it move through freely, and bearing open arms to conflict pushing it to finish or end and let the reader’s insight run freely after they finish the story. Michael Kurland an American author, best known for his works of fiction and detective fiction, he suggests in his article “Developing Minor Characters: How Small Parts Can Make a Significant Impact in Your Fiction,” he explains that characters that push the plot on are minor, then he responds this idea by saying if the character returns for a second or even first appearance they can be questioned as if they’re a major character advancing plot and altering or changing the story line. Next he mostly discusses the story’s setting and if the character uses this to their advantage, for example he states, “If the main character or protagonist was in a desert dying form exhaustion and dehydration, a man with water saving the main character with a not a significant part at all can be made from a minor character to a major character.” (Kurland3) Lastly he concludes with the idea that characters are going to turn to into major characters and how this is done or set up by the author; or is all minor characters already major characters in their own way? We ask the question, what makes a major character and what makes a minor character? How can this change in a novel? In Colleen M. Conway’s a professor of religious studies at Seton Hall University, in her case she believes that minor character can change without actually changing that it is the reader’s perception of the character. She wants to see if the individual is major or minor in the novels case. She presses on saying, “Instead of assuming a position on a spectrum of negative to positive faith responses, the minor characters move individually up and down such a spectrum,” the spectrum in relation to the bible in this case; as she moves on to say that the minor characters are at a certain degree or on the verge of turning into major characters but are slipping in and out of full importance and are complete and utter ambiguities. As she soon comes to an end, she makes the reader realize it is all up to the reader and author, a way to perceive the story and or characters in a way to sense if the minor character grows or does not, but in all supports the main(s) character(s). This means that in A Mercy the reader can identify in the novel who they think are the minor and major characters, but they can also reveal how important to the context of the story they are. The reader starts with who is the biggest minor/major character in the story Florens’ Mother Minahe miha. She is really a debatable topic of a major or minor character she starts of the novel giving up Florens, but later returns to give her the best advice and gives the support her daughter needs. She does this by saying she is proud of her daughter and makes Florens have a lot more pride for herself. The reason why Florens’ mother is a minor character who turns major is displayed at the end of the novel when she states, “to be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest over another is a wrong thing ; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.” The statement is so powerful it implies that slavery is wrong, but also states that to give dominion or control over oneself is not only it’s wicked that individuality is what makes someone them. This entices and lets the reader know that Minahe miha is wise women and has given that sense of womanist that Florens is now; and lets her realize she is her own person and is expressing individuality at the end of the novel. The next character to reflect on is the blacksmith; he is a debatable topic as well for Florens’ is so much in love with him. That she gives herself up but he lets her free, he pushes the main character to a realization does this make him a minor character? He’s also a major part of the story, reflecting on his sense of bringing Florence a step closer to wisdom and individualism. The Blacksmith states, “Own yourself women,” with these great words of empowerment later to be expressed after the mild depression of a lost love; Florens’ liberates herself, owning herself stating she is who she is expressing individuality to the fullest as writing on her dead master’s walls freeing her old imprisoned self and rebirthing a new self-righteous one. How do other stories compare to A Mercy in terms of minor and major character; are they used for the same purposes or advancement of plot? If they look at William Shakespeare a great playwright of his century, they see that he uses minor characters in a new light taking them from major to minor in a few lines. In relation to A Mercy, Morrison uses a lot of backstory and details to describe her major characters, as well as Shakespeare’s use of backstory to develop his plays. For example in Hamlet the play is set right after a war Hamlet senior has just won and then is killed developing the tragedy of all the same despairs happening at once; like in A Mercy Morrison uses her minor characters to advance the plot. In contrary to A Mercy, Florens’ is dumped by the blacksmith, dumped by Lina, and is left homeless. Or in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the sudden killing of Banquo well the plots were behind Macbeth to murder his friend just because the witches told him too made it seem he was insane. In correlation to A Mercy, the death of Sir causes a sudden twist; Rebekka is mad and Florens’ is’ lost and the farm is close to shut down, since Sir is a minor character it turns him into a major due to his death. In conclusion the reader’s see that A Mercy can be advised as a debate on who is important and not between certain things characters do to reflect Florens. Major characters may be the base of the story, but without minor characters changing and manipulating, the novel falls short of greatness; the reader sees that a novel needs advancement in plot to increase its sense of appeal. Lastly the final part of the decision is the reader’s perception of the character and their individual steps they take to enhance their affiliation that the minor characters in the book are worth looking at when it comes to seeing them grow and advance the plot of the novel.
Conway, Colleen M. "Speaking Through Ambiguity: “Minor Characters in The Fourth Gospel." Biblical Interpretation 10.3 (2002): 324-341. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Sept. 2013. Kurland, Michael. "Developing Minor Characters: How Small Parts Can Make A Significant Impact In Your Fiction. “Writer (Kalmbach Publishing Co.) 119.10 (2006): 33. Master FILE Premier. Web. 13 Sept. 2013. Morrison, Toni. A Mercy. New York: Knopf, 2008. Print.