Our Nig Analysis

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Duality in Our Nig Our Nig by Harriet E. Wilson narrates the life of Frado, a young woman who experiences racism and enslavement in the North despite the common, idealized notion that the North was a safe refuge for blacks in the United States. Frado is a mulatto woman with a white mother and a black father, a unique situation in the mid 1800s that provides a polarizing premise for the main character’s story. Frado is unable to identify fully with either the black or the white community, but the Bellmonts consider her to be black and call her “our nig” (Wilson 26). Therefore, the Bellmonts, accompanied by the lingering racist tendencies of the North, prevent Frado from exercising her freedoms as a “free black” living in a Northern state. As…show more content…
Because Frado is of mixed race, she experiences an even worse sort of degradation than she would have if both of her parents had been black, a situation which leads to her position as a societal outcast. For example, Mrs. Bellmont’s hatred for Frado and the strength of her cruelty progressively increase throughout the story in part because Frado “was not many shades darker than Mary now,” suggesting that Mrs. Bellmont fears the power that black people could gain if they were treated as equals to whites in the North (Wilson 39). For example, Mrs. Bellmont forbids Frado from sheltering her skin from the sun in an attempt to make Frado darker. She fears that her peers will notice that Frado is not much darker than Mary: “what a calamity it would be to ever hear that contrast spoken of.... Mrs. Bellmont was determined the sun should have full power to darken the shade which nature had first bestowed on her as best fitting” (Wilson 39). Although Mrs. Bellmont has already alienated Frado as a result of her skin color, she attempts to further remove Frado by attempting to expel Frado from the liminal space she occupies as a mulatto by making her darker skinned. Mrs. Bellmont’s disdain for Frado’s light complexion further isolates Frado from…show more content…
Because she is not able to enjoy the benefits of being a citizen, she seeks equality through spirituality, but Mrs. Bellmont endeavors to strip Frado of that right as well. For instance, while at a church meeting, Frado discovers that her status as a mulatto cannot prevent her entry into Heaven, a place where whites and blacks are treated equally; however, Mrs. Bellmont attempts to prevent Frado’s religious devotion, further exemplifying Frado’s position as both a “free black” and a slave. Frado’s spirituality is representative of her life as both a citizen and as a social outcast because she has a right to worship, but that right is nearly taken away from her. Frado receives confirmation of her ability to reach Heaven when a pastor says, “‘Come to Christ...all, young or old, white or black, bond or free, come all to Christ…’” (Wilson 85). Frado tastes the freedom that accompanies citizenship when she realizes that she, like all other people, has the chance to enter Heaven. Despite Frado’s moment of freedom and equality with Christianity, Mrs. Bellmont attempts to take away her right to worship and, therefore, her ability to become an equal in the eyes of God: “her mistress had told her it would ‘do no good to attempt prayer; prayer was for whites, not for blacks’” (Wilson 94). Frado’s freeing position as a subject of God is contrasted with Mrs.
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