A Look At The Story Our Nig

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Harriet E. Wilson’s novel Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, In A Two-Story House, North. Showing that Slavery’s Shadows Fall Even There. follows the life of Frado, a young mulatto girl in the household of a white family residing in New England. She is abandoned to this family at the age of six because her mother could not afford to care for her and resented her and the hardships to which her birth had contributed. The mistress of the household to which Frado is left is a cruel and spiteful woman, especially towards blacks. From this tale the reader is shown that racism and, in some degrees, slavery, was prevalent even in areas that professed abolitionism and equal rights.

When Frado is left in the care of the Bellmont residence as a young girl, she has no idea of the tribulations that will try her for most of her life. From the very beginning, neither Mrs. Bellmont, the main antagonist, nor her equally cruel daughter, Mary, show any hint of compassion for young Frado. Mary would have the girl ejected from the house, saying "I do n’t want a nigger ‘round me, do you, mother?" (Wilson 26). The early use of the word "nigger" sets the tone for how Frado will be viewed and treated for the majority of the story. The very morning after her arrival, Frado is put to work feeding and caring for animals, cooking, and other chores unbefitting a six year old. Frado is told from the start that if she does not do her chores correctly, she will be whipped and beaten. Barely into the story we are introduced to severe amount of oppression Frado will have to endure simply because of the color of her skin. She is even given the degrading nickname of "Nig." Being a strong-willed girl, even at such a young age, she endures it as well as she can, mostly because she knows nothing else she can do. Her mind is unable to get around any reason that she should be treated this way simply because she is black. When she is unable to find any reason for such treatment, she retreats to sorrow and despair. She finds blame in the only place she can think of: God. In a conversation with James, one of the Bellmont’s sons who had returned home after some years away, Frado confides in him that she doesn’t like God.
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