Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Katherine Bassard


Toni Morrison chose to revisit the neo-slave narrative genre twenty-five years after the publication of Beloved with A Mercy in 2008. With these two texts, Morrison offers her readers one story that shows the descent into slavery and one that shows progression towards freedom. The purpose of this thesis is to place Morrison’s two neo-slave narratives, Beloved and A Mercy, next to one another in order to better understand the journey to freedom through self-love. This work examines the concept of self-love and the necessary components—maternal nurturance, ancestral connection, and communal interaction—that must come together to help Morrison’s characters learn to love and see themselves as their “own best thing.” The repercussions that self-love’s absence has for both individual characters and their larger communities is also discussed and illustrated by the struggles of Florens in A Mercy and Sethe in Beloved.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2012

Available for download on Thursday, August 13, 2212