“The Europes” vs Wall Street

While reading A Mercy, I think I took for granted all of the natural comments and sightings that Florens had mentioned throughout the text. I saw them mostly as adding to the story and to describe a scene. Now looking back, I have been able to text crawl through the book, and find scenes, and passages that help me understand life during this time, and the variety of people that were all working during this time, and had come from other places/ where expelled from there original homes.  Particularly looking on page 174 of A Mercy, “ Six English, one Native, twelve African by way of Barbados. No women anywhere” here Florens was listing off the type of the different men that she saw working in the field but the only thing she said that they had in common was the fact that they all truly disliked was the master’s son. Why would that matter? When things fall apart, the only thing that would unite them would have been the fact that they all dislike this one man, they would need to learn to find themselves, and then also live as a group. 

I also think recognizing how Florens sees them and calls the white people as, “The Europes” like on page 63, is a prime example of how even the Europeans are all new and where pulled from Europe as well. Every time she says that it is a reminder that they are not actually from America, but from Europe. This also reminded me of the movie Old Man and the Sea and The Big Short because in each of those the depressed(with money, goods, or emotions) characters referred to the giant or larger companies not as people, but as a thing, as “ Wall Street” or as the “Tax people”, and now “the Europes”. I found how characters like Mr. Gettridge, Florens, and the folks who suffered from the housing crisis talked about large institutions or groups of people in the broad sweeping sense.  Many people were “enslaved” to their mortgages living paycheck to paycheck, by no means, is it like slavery, but more of a saying. People during the housing crisis who had fallen into the trickery or fraud of the Wall Street men, later found out that their houses would soon not be there’s but the banks. The folks during this time were trapped into walking away from their beautiful house or trying to maintain status and working for the rest of their life to pay it off.  Any race, any ethnicity, any hair color this applied to everyone. 

Within Jacob Vaarks household we had people of many different ethnicities, Florens, who is African, Lina who is Native,  Willard and Scully who were white men and all of these people worked for Jacob Varraks under the same household. This is about pre-racism slavery as Toni Morrison had mentioned in this video there WAS a time, wherein America slavery was NOT linked with racism. We can see that with the work done with Willard and Scully, and Lina. These people did not have a home, and the Vaarks home became everyone’s home. With that being said, when Jacob died, that was also the common thread, holding them together. Now they had to go on a journey of self-discovery, and hoping the group comradery would them bring all back to the house.  Since, they did not have as Morrison states, “an institution to hold them together, a tribe, or a race.” They had to learn to push back against everything that was or wanting to expel them and come to where they were accepted. Another insight that was picked up from listening to the video linked above, is Morrisons’ mention of the Bacon Rebellion. Bacons Rebellion took place in 1676, and this book took place during the 1680s so shortly after this event. She described it as an event where men of all races gathered to protest the governor of Virginia,  they did many awful things, burning cities, etc but in the end, the culture ended up viewing the Africans and servants as the people of fault, and they were worried that they would uprise again. Some take this to be a starting point for racial slavery in the United States which correlates with the expulsion of African people from their homes to fuel this new forming mode of work in the US. Although this is after the time frame of A Mercy, we can still see how this affects Florens in her personal self searching to find freedom, which she finds after she let’s go from the Blacksmith, “ Now I am living the dying inside” page 167 Florens was expressing her extreme rejection from the Blacksmith, but now she does have the freedom to build herself up. Florens at the end of the novel realizes the gift she was given to be able to live in the Vaarks house, it was a mercy. Offered by a human.  In a few years to come, many Africans would not have the freedoms that she had now, like being able to experience the freedom to discover herself.

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