Sharon Patricia Holland is Townsend Ludington Distinguished Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of
Sovereignty : A Mercy
Chapter 6 focuses on the work of sovereignty in Toni Morrison's A Mercy. This is Morrison's only novel that sets itself up in animal life, as its first scenes open upon a new world burgeoning with hum:animal. The arguments in earlier chapters come to a head in this final one, exploring the how of hum:animal living and how such living is always already negotiated by a series of engagements with the meaning of sovereignty. This chapter adds another dimension to understanding blackness and the animal as it traces what happens to sovereignty in a configuration where indigeneity cannot be seen as living. The loss of the Indigenous character Lina's tribe and her relationship to it are treated as a moment where sovereignty becomes a mercy, something to be given by another, rather than lived. This is done by briefly thinking through Jacques Derrida's conceptualization of beast and sovereign.