A Mercy


Toni Morrison

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Florens is a slave of the Vaarks’ farm, a surrogate daughter to Lina, and the Blacksmith’s lover. Desperate for affection and eager to please, Florens is a hardworking, naïve teenage girl. Florens grew… read analysis of Florens

Florens’s Mother

Florens’s mother, who is unnamed throughout the book, is a slave on D’Ortega’s Maryland plantation. She was born in Africa and then taken to Barbados as a slave to work on the sugar cane… read analysis of Florens’s Mother

The Blacksmith

The Blacksmith is Florens’s lover, Malaik’s caretaker, and a contractor for Jacob. He is a free black man and a mysterious figure throughout A Mercy. The Blacksmith is the only main… read analysis of The Blacksmith


Lina is a native woman owned by Jacob Vaark. Lina is loyal, superstitious, and hardworking. She is a friend of her mistress Rebekka Vaark and a surrogate mother to Florens. Lina began her… read analysis of Lina


Sorrow is a young woman and an orphan who works on the Vaarks’ farm. Several times during the book, characters imply that Sorrow is mixed race and heavily suggest that Sorrow suffers from some kind… read analysis of Sorrow
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Rebekka Vaark

Rebekka Vaark is Jacob’s wife and Lina, Florens, and Sorrow’s “mistress” (owner). Rebekka was born in England, where she lived with her devotedly religious but cold and unloving parents. In England… read analysis of Rebekka Vaark

Jacob Vaark

Jacob Vaark is a farmer and trader in New England, husband of Rebekka, father of Patrician, and master of Lina, Sorrow, and Florens. The son of a Dutchman and an… read analysis of Jacob Vaark


D’Ortega is a Portuguese Catholic slave trader living in Maryland. Jacob goes to see him at the beginning of the book to discuss business. D’Ortega is indulgent and ostentatious—he owns an enormous plantation called “Jublio,”… read analysis of D’Ortega

The Reverend Father

The Reverend Father is the Catholic priest who lives in D’Ortega’s parish in Maryland. The Reverend Father takes Florens and her family under his wing: helping them, preaching the Catholic faith to them, and… read analysis of The Reverend Father

Widow Ealing

Widow Ealing is Daughter Jane’s mother. She meets and helps Florens when Florens is lost and on her way to find the Blacksmith, giving her food and shelter. Widow Ealing has red hair… read analysis of Widow Ealing

Daughter Jane

Daughter Jane is Widow Ealing’s daughter. Florens meets Daughter Jane while she shelters in their cottage for the night. Jane has a problem with her eyes, causing the other people in her village to… read analysis of Daughter Jane


Willard is one of the indentured servants that belongs to the owner of a nearby cattle farm. Willard and his friend (and sometimes romantic partner) Scully often do work on the Vaark farm. Willard grew… read analysis of Willard


Scully is one of the indentured servants that belongs to the owner of a nearby cattle farm. Scully and his friend (and sometimes romantic partner) Willard often do work on the Vaark farm. Scully belonged… read analysis of Scully


Malaik is an orphan that the Blacksmith is caring for when Florens shows up at his house to tell him about Rebekka’s illness and beg to stay with him. Malaik is a young child… read analysis of Malaik
Minor Characters
D’Ortega’s Wife
D’Ortega’s wife is a Portuguese Catholic woman and the wife of D’Ortega, a slave owner. She wears overly fine clothes and is vain and shallow. Jacob finds her repulsive when he visits their plantation.
Patrician is Rebekka and Jacob’s daughter, and the only one of their children to live past infancy. Cherished by her parents, Patrician only lives to age five, when a horse kicks her in the head. Patrician’s skull cracks as a result and she dies several days later.
Florens’s Brother
Florens’s brother is a baby and a slave on the D’Ortega plantation when Florens is sold to Jacob. Florens feels that her mother chose her brother over her.
Twin is Sorrow’s imaginary friend. Sorrow imagines Twin playing with her and talking to her. Twin looks exactly like Sorrow, and she first appeared to her after the traumatic shipwreck that only Sorrow survived. Twin disappears after Sorrow has her first healthy child.
Regina is the horse that Jacob rides from where his boat lands in Virginia to D’Ortega’s plantation in Maryland.
Peter Downes
Peter Downes is a trader in the Caribbean sugar and rum industry. Jacob meets him on his way home from his business trip to Maryland. Peter Downes looks worse for wear, but he tells Jacob about the fantastic wealth to be made on the rum industry in Barbados.
Anne is a passenger on Rebekka’s transatlantic ship. Unlike the other women, who are thieves and prostitutes, Anne is a middle class woman who is being sent away to the colonies for disgracing her family.
Judith is a passenger on Rebekka’s transatlantic ship. She is a prostitute who chose to go to America rather than be sentenced to prison.
Lydia is a passenger on Rebekka’s transatlantic ship. She is a prostitute who chose to go to America rather than be sentenced to prison.
Patty is a passenger on Rebekka’s transatlantic ship. She is the ten-year-old daughter of Lydia.
Elizabeth is a passenger on Rebekka’s transatlantic ship. She is supposedly the daughter of a Company agent.
Dorothea is a passenger on Rebekka’s transatlantic ship. A cutpurse, she was forced to choose between exile and prison, so she decided to go to America. Of all the women Rebekka meets on the ship, Rebekka feels closest with Dorothea.
Abigail is one of the women on Rebekka’s transatlantic ship. Abigail catches the Captain’s eye, and she spends most of the voyage in his quarters.
Ney Brothers
The Ney Brothers drive the wagon that Florens uses to travel to the Blacksmith’s house.
Figo is a slave boy on the D’Ortegas’ plantation in Maryland. When Florens was a child, they used to play together.
Bess is Figo’s mother and a slave woman on the D’Ortegas’ plantation in Maryland. Like Florens’s mother, Bess was gang raped when she arrived on the plantation.