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Our Nig

             Well into the nineteenth century the doctrine of conversion was an established phenomenon in fictional literature. Along with many other authors, Maria Susanna Cummins uses this literary practice in her work. In The Lamplighter, Cummins introduces the heroine, Gerty; an orphan at risk with her salvation eventually converts to Christianity. In "Our Nig", Harriet Wilson differs from other nineteenth century authors by her heroine having a failed spiritual conversion. Wilson's heroine, Frado, was often encouraged spiritually but was never destined for redemption. There were many characters in Frado's life that could have not only told her about Christianity, but lived out the Christian life.
             From the onset Frado begins life with a tainted legacy. Frado inherited no solid base to build her a life, much less a Christian life. Being the daughter of a mother whose soul is doomed to eternal punishment, and a father who is considered a social outcast because of his race, gave her a disadvantage from the start. The mother plays an important spiritual and moral role in a child's life because it gives the child guidelines on living. In chapter 1, Wilson states that Mag felt she was an outcast. After every trial in her life she broke all connections with God and Christianity until "she had ceased to feel the gushings of penitence; she had crushed the sharp agonies of an awakened conscience she asked not the rite of civilization or Christianity"(16). With Mag having these strong feelings about God, surely she wasn't capable of raising a daughter with Christian and Godly principles. It surely didn't teach Frado a good lesson when Mag would blame God for all of her hardships, like he was the one that brought them on to her. These actions by her mother hindered Frado, down the road, from making a conversion to God.

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