Our Nig Questions and Answers
by Harriet E. Adams

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Compare and Contrast the characters of Frado in "Our Nig" with that of Jake Brown in "Home to Harlem". Does either have direction and aim in life? To what degree does each have control over his or her destiny? Frado depicts herself as a hard working individual who is a victim to Mrs. Bellmot's tyrannies. How accourate is this depiction? Provide textual evidence for your point of view.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In terms of the textual evidence, you will have to find that on your own, but I will help draw a sketch of both.  Frado, in Our Nig, has many similarities with Jake, in Home to Harlem.  In my mind, the most overwhelming similarity is that they both end up leaving their private hells, or arenas of discomfort.  Jake decides to take his love to Chicago, escaping the nature of Harlem in the hopes of a new life.  Frado ends up leaving Mrs. B and marries, having a child who is born free.  Both have a vision of freedom, an ideal notion that contrasts with their difficult lives.  Jake believes that Chicago is the answer, getting away from New York is critical.  Frado's child is free, but poses as a slave to deliver abolitionist lectures, providing inspiration to Frado.  The accomplishment of these visions becomes their goal in life.  Naturally, their last similarity is the silent inferno of cruelty brought on by race that they had to endure. An obvious difference is gender.   I think that Jake had an "easier" (That term really is not applicable in either case) time in being a man than Frado as a woman.  Being a woman, she was fighting the battle of being Black and the conflict of being a woman, which was also predicated on living in silence.  In terms of how each has control over their lives, I think that a claim can be that they do exert autonomy in whatever manner they can.  It is not like they are silent and passive, nor do they use social conditions as a reason to quit fighting.  The authors are both concerned with providing a vision where resilency and active voice are present.   The characters do take active steps- Jake in leaving and finding his love, Frado in marrying and leaving Mrs. B.  I think you can also find examples where they do exert autonomy.  The fact that they each have their visions of an ideal life which they pursue- call it their own sense of "pursuits of happiness"- does indicate that they are not passive.

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