To make the reasons for an act of violence felt by me is one thing. To do so in a book that takes the part of the victim is… testament to Morrison’s genius and to the compelling quality of the reasons. Slavery, to those who know, is worse than death, and more.
But reasons don’t make an unassailable right; their value depends on what you can know in your bones, and what you can know depends… depends on the heart, the bones, what happens to you, on the shape of your days. So this is a story that challenges the binary ethical foundations and the epistemologies of white supremacist (christian) heteropatriarchy. It is a story of both/and, one of ambiguous (un)forgiveness.
Kindness: a young man buys the freedom of his mother with years of future Sundays. The woman learns she might work now, hears women are wanted at the slaughterhouse. What are women wanted for? She wonders. Work unwanted by men, surely. But there is money for the work, the cold hard metal of freedom, so the work is welcome. Because unfreedom is worse than death, than murder, than the blood and horror of the slaughterhouse, worse than the miserable work women might earn a few coins for, to those who know.
The spirit world, real and immediate, horror, folklore, fairytale. The limits, the trammels and traps that hamper love, hold back, hold down (Patricia Hill Collins talks about this too, in
Black Feminist Thought
). Morrison writes, and the unspeakable is spoken. Form breaking, heart shaking literature