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Our Nig


Submitted By Samaiyahoyle
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In her sympathetic novel Our Nig, Harriet E. Wilson follows the life of Frado, a young mulatto girl in the household of a white family residing in New England. Frado 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. 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 don’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. Frado is told from the start that if she does not do her chores correctly, she will be whipped and beaten. Readers are constantly introduced to the severe amount of oppression Frado endures simply because of the color of her skin. She is even given the nickname of "Nig" which reveals how unimportant she is to Mrs. Bellmont. Even in New England where slavery is illegal and blacks are supposed to be treated so much better, Frado is treated as a slave. The fact that Mrs. Bellmont hates Frado and treats her as a slave, yet professes to be a Christian is rather disturbing. She even tells Frado, “Religion was not meant for niggers” (Wilson 68). Wilson constantly reminds readers of the harsh treatment of Frado and such blatant hatred is enough to prey upon the psyche of virtually any reader. Readers sympathize with Frado and can only imagine how it would feel to be in her shoes. Also curious is the character of Mr. Bellmont. From his actions readers can understand that he does not approve of Frado being beaten and yelled at, however, he rarely does anything to stop it. One must wonder if he’s truly that apathetic, or if he doesn’t realize just what is going on. Mr. Bellmont is not too ignorant of the events taking place in his own home because at one point he tells Frado not to let herself be beaten when she doesn’t deserve it.

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