A Mercy

Florens’s Mother Character Analysis

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 plantations. Florens’s mother was later bought by D’Ortega and shipped up to Maryland. D’Ortega ordered Florens’s mother to be gang raped when she arrived on the plantation, and he later sexually abused her himself. Florens’s mother has two children, Florens and her brother, as a result of these rapes. When Jacob comes to the farm, Florens’s mother, not wanting her daughter to suffer the same fate that she did, begs him to take her. Jacob does, and Florens’s mother hopes that her daughter understands her sacrifice.

Florens’s Mother Quotes in A Mercy

The A Mercy quotes below are all either spoken by Florens’s Mother or refer to Florens’s Mother. 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 11 Quotes

I will keep one sadness. That all this time I cannot know what my mother is telling me. Nor can she know what I am wanting to tell her. Mãe, you can have pleasure now because the soles of my feet are hard as cypress.

Related Characters: Florens (speaker), Florens’s Mother
Related Symbols: Florens’s Shoes
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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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:

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It was not a miracle. Bestowed by God. It was a mercy. Offered by a human. I stayed on my knees. In the dust where my heart will remain each night and every day until you understand what I know and long to tell you: to be given dominion over another is a hard thing; to wrest dominion over another is a wrong thing; to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing.

Related Characters: Florens’s Mother (speaker), Florens, Jacob Vaark
Page Number: 195-196
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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Florens’s Mother Character Timeline in A Mercy

The timeline below shows where the character Florens’s Mother appears in A Mercy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
...not like being barefoot, and would beg to wear other people’s shoes. This upset Florens’s mother. Florens’s mother did not want Florens to wear the broken high heels Florens found being... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
...in Maryland taught her to read and write every week in secret along with her mother and her younger brother. Teaching slaves to read and write is illegal and punishable by... (full context)
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
...Vaark farm spoke a different language from her family. Lina explained to Florens that her mother and brother were still in Maryland. (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
Florens prefers sleeping with Lina in her broken sleigh to sleeping with her mother and brother on the floor. In the winter, she and Lina bundle up in fur... (full context)
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.”... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
...Rebekka said nothing. Florens worried at her new home and said she was afraid of “mothers nursing greedy babies,” thinking back on her mother begging Jacob to take only Florens. Florens... (full context)
Chapter 6
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
...to Rebekka. Rebekka attributes this people-pleasing inclination to the fact that, according to Jacob, Florens’s mother was eager to give her up. (full context)
Chapter 9
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
Florens pictures her mother standing at the door, holding her younger brother’s hand and trying to tell her something.... (full context)
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
...worry because she will find her reflection. When Florens wakes up, she imagines that her mother is standing next to the cot and holding Malaik by the hand instead of Florens’s... (full context)
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
...the pasture until it gets dark. That night she does not dream or imagine her mother. The next morning Florens makes porridge for herself and Malaik. Malaik stands in the road... (full context)
Chapter 11
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
...free. Florens says she still has one big sadness: that she cannot communicate with her mother. She thinks that her feet are finally hard and callused like her mother wanted. (full context)
Chapter 12
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
Motherhood, Heartbreak, and Salvation Theme Icon
Chapter 12 takes up Florens’s mother’s first person narrative, addressing Florens. She describes how she knew that men would soon begin... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
Florens’s mother tells Florens that the catechism has nothing in it against slavery and its evils. Florens’s... (full context)
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... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
The Oppression of Women, Violence, and Female Community Theme Icon
Florens’s mother admits that she does not know who Florens’s father was. Florens was conceived when Florens’s... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Florens’s mother thinks about the constant struggles over land and power in Angola, where she came from.... (full context)
Human Bondage, Wealth, and Humanity Theme Icon
Florens’s mother remembers them talking about Barbados onboard, and wishing she were dead. When they finally arrived... (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 gang raped. The men... (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 believe her and only told her... (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
Religion, Morality, and Otherness Theme Icon
When Jacob says he will take Florens, Florens’s mother thinks it is not a miracle from a god but a “mercy” from a human.... (full context)