By exploring late 17th century America, Morrison explores slavery not just for African’s but for, what she smartly calls, “The Europes.” Be it love or lust (hetero or homosexual), greed or god, everything and everyone is owned. Morrison creates a world, an America that we don’t know, an America before America, where the land itself is owned by someone that we don’t recognize.
What does it mean to be a slave? Not in terms of labor (though that looms large in this book), but in terms of the soul? And more than this, what does it mean to be owned by love? Morrison takes the evil of slavery and finds a way to make living it into a mercy. This mercy, this salvation, can only be arrived at by a relinquishing of this desire, of looking no further than the moment in front of us and wanting to complete no more than the task at hand. And any time we try to reach beyond the immediate, we are met with vengeance. Disturbingly, peace comes in being owned. In her telling, she does the rare in modern American fiction: she takes the eternal, love and domination, and makes it immediate.