Our Nig; or Sketches from the life of a Free Black and A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson Harriet Wilson’s and Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narratives have three things in common. First, they have a theme of sustaining faith in God throughout their trials. Secondly, they portray their captors as savages. Finally, they all demonstrate the isolation felt by the prisoner.
Our Nig: or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet Wilson is the story of a Northern girl, born into an interracial family and later abandoned by her parents, forcing her to become the servant of the Bellmont Household. After Mary, Mrs. Bellmont’s daughter falls into a stream, Frado must endure a horrific beating by both women. “No sooner was he out of sight than Mrs. B. and Mary commenced beating her unhumanly, then propping her mouth open with a piece of wood, shut her up in a dark room, without any supper.” (Wilson, 34-35). Yet Frado is able to continually endure the wrath and violence of Mrs. Bellmont. “But, Frado, if you will be a good girl, and love and serve God, it will be but a short time before we are in a heavenly home together. There will never be any sickness or sorrow there.” (Wilson, 95). As she is continually tortured, Frado finds salvation through her faith, thus allowing her to survive.
Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson displays this same theme as well. The Narragansett Indians took Rowlandson and her children captive. “All was gone, my Husband gone (at least separated from me, he being in the Bay, and to add to my grief, the Indians told me they ...
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...ile Wilson’s novel exposed the savage treatment of “free” blacks in the North prior to the civil war.
American Authors. http://www.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/enl311/aufram.html (October 28, 1999).
Harriss, Sharon M. “Introduction to Mary Rowlandson.” The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988. Lauter, Paul, Ed. 340-342.
Rowlandson, Mary. “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson." The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983. 343-366.
Wilson, Harriet. Our Nig; or Sketches from the life of a Free Black. New York: Vintage Books, 1983.
"In [a captivity narrative] a single individual, usually a woman, stands passively under the strokes of evil, awaiting rescue by the grace of God.” – Richard Slotkin.
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