Our Nig Research Papers

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So here Harriet Wilson says that one such black fugitive was indeed fake, that he married her, impregnated her and ran away.That was not designed to win Northern friends in the black community or in the white community.

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This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996.

To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.

Gates believes that the novel is partly autobiographical but that other elements - probably including the mixed marriage of the protagonist's parents - were fictional inventions.

'' The decade of the 1850's was a golden age of women's fiction in America,'' he observed. Wilson's marriage certificate and - dated exactly nine months later - the birth certificate of her son in the county poorhouse in Milford, N. In a heart-rending documentary footnote, he also found the boy's death certificate: Mrs.

But as soon as I started to read it, I was convinced immediately that the author of the book was black, and that the title was ironic: she called it ' Our Nig' because that's what she was called by all the white racists in the book.'' Indeed, the author describes herself as black in her preface, and appended to the back of the book were letters by three white acquaintances vouching for the truth of her tale. Gates has since verified his instinct with documentary proof. Alfrado's son is born in the county poorhouse, and although her husband later returns to them for a while, he eventually dies of yellow fever while on a trip to New Orleans, and Alfrado is forced to leave her child in a foster home.

The Boston copyright lists the book's author as H. The story ends with an appeal for readers to buy the book so the author can earn enough money to get her son back. Gates suggested several reasons why '' Our Nig'' failed to win public recognition at a time when Yankees were loath to compromise their campaign against slavery in the South by acknowledging that racism could have such savage consequences in the North.

The two aspects of her audience would have been blacks in the North and white abolitionists, and she undercut her own strength with them by writing about these two subjects, which were both taboo.'' Another taboo was the subject of interracial marriage, particularly between a white woman and a black man. Wilson portray the marriage of Alfrado's parents as having been a happy one ended only by the husband's death, but she also writes that the marriage was prompted by the black man's pity for the white woman, who is destitute and starving: he feels he is doing her a favor by asking her to marry him. Wilson shattered stereotypes in other ways as well.

'' That possibility was absolutely never talked about, because it was such an emotional issue for white racists,'' Mr. '' She was very well read,'' noted Mr.

Second, the man Alfrado marries is a black man pretending to be an escaped slave.

There was a big lecture circuit of fugitive slaves at the time, and Southern slaveholders were always claiming that these people were fakes.


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