The credibility of Lina’s character traits

During the in-class exercise that we completed today, my group focused on Lina and which aspects of her character were affirmed and which were not. We agreed as a whole that Lina is a strong person; she has been through and survived so much. Not only is she strong in the physical sense (she takes care of Rebekka almost single-handedly when she’s ill), but mentally strong. On page 57 she describes, “the shame of having survived the destruction of her families. . . .” Carrying that kind of survivor’s guilt at such a young age is nearly impossible to imagine, so clearly someone would have to be of strong mental standing to move forward from that.

We argued that other characters’ perspectives also prove Lina as a strong person, like when the narrator says in Rebekka’s chapter, “only Lina was steady, unmoved by any catastrophe as though she’d seen and survived everything,” regarding the incident when the women were caught in a blizzard (Morrison 117).

Drawing upon Monday’s exercise where we had to list what drives each character, I would retract my original statement that said Lina is driven by her need to care for others; I think this attribute can be disputed. I was extremely bothered by Sorrow’s accusation against Lina, claiming she drowned her baby, but even without this piece of evidence, (because there’s no way to know for sure if that’s true or not), the way Lina treated Sorrow stands alone as proof that she doesn’t care for others, in my opinion.

It is Sorrow’s chapter that awakened me to the realization that all along what I thought was altruism and compassion on Lina’s part might’ve actually been acts of possession and selfishness. Sorrow talks about how Lina claimed Florens as her own before Sorrow could even try to befriend her, and that, “Lina was simply wary of anyone who came between herself and Florens” (Morrison 155). This makes me think everything Lina said about the blacksmith not really caring about Florens may have been misconstrued by Lina’s obsession with Florens.

 

2 comments

  1. I think it is really interesting how Lina is seen as the ultimate caretaker in the novel, but your post has further pursued the idea that Lina is actually SELFISH in her actions rather than SELFLESS. I was not bothered by the fact that Sorrow implied Lina killed her baby. In fact, I think this is a plausible possibility. Sorrow was only 12 when she first became pregnant. She rarely did anything around the house and was not of much help to any person that had her in his/her possession. I believe Lina assumed she would be the one stuck caring for Sorrow’s baby, which may have been incentive for drowning the child.
    During group discussion I mentioned the possibility of Lina being capable of killing Rebekka’s children. While we mostly agreed this was probably not the case, it is questionable considering how she may have murdered Sorrow’s baby.
    I feel that Lina knew her place in the house, which was to be the caretaker. I think this position gave her a false sense of power. At one point Rebekka comments on Lina’s presence–that she is merely a servant. It seems to me that Lina acted quite arrogant in the Vaark household. It is definitely apparent that nothing in “A Mercy” is as it seems.

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