Quotes from A Mercy

Toni Morrison ·  167 pages

Rating: (17K votes)


“I dream a dream that dreams back at me”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“She learned the intricacy of loneliness: the horror of color, the roar of soundlessness and the menace of familiar objects lying still.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“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.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“Here I am not the one to throw out. No one steals my warmth and shoes because I am small. No one handles my backside. No one whinnies like sheep or goat because I drop in fear and weakness. No one screams at the sight of me. No one watches my body for how it is unseemly. With you my body is pleasure is safe is belonging. I can never not have you have me.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“We never shape the world . . . the world shapes us.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy



“Their drift away from others produced a selfish privacy and they had lost the refuge and the consolation of a clan. Baptists, Presbyterians, tribe, army, family, some encircling outside thing was needed. Pride, she thought. Pride alone made them think that they needed only themselves, could shape life that way, like Adam and Eve, like gods from nowhere beholden to nothing except their own creations. She should have warned them, but her devotion cautioned against impertinence. As long as Sir was alive it was easy to veil the truth: that they were not a family-not even a like-minded group. They were orphans, each and all.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“More than fear of loving bears or birds bigger than cows, I fear pathless nights. How, I wonder, can I find you in the dark?”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“I welcomed the circling sharks but they avoided me as if knowing I preferred their teeth to the chains around my neck my waist my ankles”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“I said you. Take you, my daughter. Because I saw the tall man see you as a human child, not pieces of eight.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“I am nothing to you. You say I am wilderness. I am. Is that a tremble on your mouth, in your eye? Are you afraid? You should be.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy



“Shallow believers prefer a shallow God.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“One chance, I thought. There is no protection but there is difference. You stood there in those shoes and the tall man laughed and said he would take me to close the debt. I knew Senhor would not allow it. I said you. Take you, my daughter. Because I saw the tall man see you as a human child, not pieces of eight. I knelt before him. Hoping for a miracle. He said yes.
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.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“Don't be afraid. My telling can't hurt you in spite of what I have done and I promise to lie quietly in the dark - weeping perhaps or occasionally seeing the blood once more - but I will never again unfold my limbs to rise up and bare teeth. I explain. You can think what I tell you a confession, if you like, but one full of curiosities familiar only in dreams and during those moments when a dog's profile plays in the steam of a kettle. Or when a corn-husk doll sitting on a shelf is soon splaying in the corner of a room and the wicked of how it got there is plain. Stranger things happen all the time everywhere. You know. I know you know. One question is who is responsible? Another is can you read?”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“You are my shaper and my world as well. It is done. No need to choose.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“He lay wracked with pain and in moral despair; they told him about themselves, and when he felt even worse, he got an answer from God saying, Who on earth do you think you are? Question me? Let me give you a hint of who I am and what I know. But a peek into Divine knowledge was less important than gaining, at last, the Lord's attention. Which...was all Job ever wanted. Not proof of His existence-- he never questioned that. Nor proof of His power- everyone accepted that. He simply wanted to catch His eye. To be recognized not as worthy or worthless, but to be noticed as a life-form by the One who made and unmade it.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy



“There is no protection. To be female in this place is to be an open wound that cannot heal. Even if scars form, the festering is ever below.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“The freezing in hell that comes before the everlasting fire where sinners bubble and singe forever.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“I don't want to be free of you because I am alive only with you.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“He relished never knowing what lay in his path, who might approach with what intention.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“Reverend Father is the only kind man I ever see. When I arrive here I believe it is the place he warns against. The freezing in hell that comes before the everlasting fire where sinners bubble and singe forever. But the ice comes first, he says. And when I see knives of it hanging from the houses and trees and feel the white air burn my face I am certain the fire is coming.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy



“You are nothing but wilderness. No constraint. No mind.

You shout the word—mind, mind, mind—over and over and then you laugh, saying as I live and breathe, a slave by choice.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“Nevertheless, remembering how the curate described what existed before creation, Scully saw dark matter out there, thick, unknowable, aching to made into a world.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“She wants you here as much as I do. For her it is to save her life. For me it is to have one.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“He couldn't stay there surrounded by a passel of slaves whose silence made him imagine an avalanche seen from a great distance. No sound, just the knowledge of a roar he could not hear.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“florens would sigh then, her head on lina's shoulder and when sleep came the little girl's smiel lingered. mother hunger – to be one or have one – both of them were reeling from that longing which, lina knes, remained alive, traveling to the bone.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy



“Marriages performed within,' read the sign next to the coffeehouse door, underneath in small letters a verse that combined warning with a sales pitch: 'When lawless lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“What excited and challenged her shipmates horrified the churched women and each set believed the other deeply, dangerously flawed. Although they had nothing in common with the views of each other, they had everything in common with one thing: the promise and threat of men.
Here, they agreed, was where security and risk lay. And both had come to terms.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


“What a man leaves behind is what a man is.”
― Toni Morrison, quote from A Mercy


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About the author

Toni Morrison
Born place: in Lorain, Ohio, The United States
Born date February 18, 1931
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