A Mercy

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,” many slaves, and a beautiful but gaudy house. D’Ortega rapes Florens’s mother and generally mistreats his slaves, including the ones he ships in from Africa to trade. D’Ortega has gotten himself into debt through a series of bad business decisions, prompting him to give Florens to Jacob to settle his debt.

D’Ortega Quotes in A Mercy

The A Mercy quotes below are all either spoken by D’Ortega or refer to D’Ortega. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of A Mercy published in 2009.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Disaster had struck…D’Ortega’s ship had been anchored a nautical mile from shore for a month waiting for a vessel, due any day, to replenish what he had lost. A third of his cargo had died of ship fever. Fined five thousand pounds of tobacco…for throwing their bodies too close to the bay; forced to scoop up the corpses…they used pikes and nets…a purchase which itself cost two pounds, six. He’d had to pile them in two drays (six shillings), cart them out to low land where saltweed and alligators would finish the work.

Related Characters: Jacob Vaark, D’Ortega
Page Number: 18-19
Explanation and Analysis:

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They both spoke of the gravity, the unique responsibility, this untamed world offered them; its unbreakable connection to God’s work and the difficulties they endured on His behalf. Caring for ill or recalcitrant labor was enough, they said, for canonization.

Related Characters: Jacob Vaark, D’Ortega, D’Ortega’s Wife
Page Number: 18-19
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

To be female in this place is to be an open wound that cannot heal. Even if scars form, the festering is ever below.

Related Characters: Florens’s Mother (speaker), Florens, D’Ortega
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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D’Ortega Character Timeline in A Mercy

The timeline below shows where the character D’Ortega appears in A Mercy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
Florens remembers her mother holding her baby brother and talking with Florens’s former master D’Ortega, who Florens calls “Senhor.” D’Ortega did not have enough money to repay Jacob, and Jacob... (full context)
Chapter 2
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Jacob is in Maryland because he has been invited to dinner at the house of D’Ortega, a plantation owner with whom he has done some business. The invitation is unexpected, as... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
...(presumably a slave) opens the front door. Jacob explains that he is there to see D’Ortega. The servant takes Jacob’s hat and leads him into the parlor, where D’Ortega is waiting... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
Jacob greets D’Ortega and admires his fine clothes. Jacob drinks a beer and makes small talk. D’Ortega quickly... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Land, Exploitation, and the American Pastoral Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
During dinner, Jacob feels awkward, comparing his own humble outfit to D’Ortega’s fine clothes, and worrying about his table manners. The meal begins with a prayer. Jacob... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
Jacob learns that D’Ortega, a fortuneless third son, went to Angola in the first place to work in the... (full context)
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
Jacob thinks that D’Ortega’s opulent lifestyle shows how he has gotten himself into debt. He thinks that D’Ortega’s wife... (full context)
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
Jacob thinks about his own wife, Rebekka, comparing her humbleness favorably to D’Ortega’s wife. Jacob remembers seeing Rebekka for the first time as she disembarked from the ship... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Dessert comes, and then D’Ortega offers to take Jacob on a tour of the estate. As they walk, Jacob admires... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Jacob refuses D’Ortega’s offer of slaves, but D’Ortega insists that if Jacob will not use the slaves on... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
...is from the smell of tobacco or the food he has just eaten. Jacob tells D’Ortega he will not accept slaves as payment, since he does not want to go through... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
Jacob begins to grow angry. He knows that if he does not take D’Ortega’s offer, he may never see the money D’Ortega owes him, because the local courts will... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
...a baby and hiding a girl behind her skirts. Jacob points to her and tells D’Ortega that he will take her. D’Ortega is clearly startled. He tells Jacob it is impossible,... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
Jacob then changes tactics, telling D’Ortega he will have to look for another lender. D’Ortega panics, knowing that his credit is... (full context)
Land, Exploitation, and the American Pastoral Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
D’Ortega’s hand moves toward his scabbard, and Jacob wonders if he will attack him, kill him,... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
D’Ortega jumps at the opportunity to give Jacob the girl instead of her mother. Although Jacob... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
Jacob leaves the plantation, eager to get away from D’Ortega. As he waves a final goodbye, he once again admires the fine house. Having confronted... (full context)
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
Jacob eats dinner and reserves a bed. Jacob thinks about his day, deciding that D’Ortega will probably never repay him the money he is due. However, he thinks that if... (full context)
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
Jacob’s thoughts return to the child he has acquired from D’Ortega. He hopes Rebekka will like her. Jacob knows that he decided to take the child... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
...in a sugar plantation in Barbados. After all, Jacob thinks, it will be different than D’Ortega’s plantation in Maryland, being so far removed. Jacob goes to bed in the inn, sleeping... (full context)
Chapter 12
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Florens’s mother remembers when Jacob came to eat at the D’Ortegas’ house, and how he did not like the food or the company. She remembers how... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
...Florens was conceived when Florens’s mother and several other slave women were gang raped at D’Ortega’s instruction. (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
D’Ortega then bought Florens’s mother and shipped her to his tobacco farm, where Florens’s mother was... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
When D’Ortega began sexually abusing her, Florens’s mother tried to tell the Reverend, but he did not... (full context)