This essay analyzes Harriet E. Wilson’s Our Nig (1859) as a book of lamentations for its bereaved black subject’s mother loss, social death, and prematurely ended girlhood. More specifically, it examines a daughter’s devastation over her natal alienation, violent domination, and general degradation within a hurtful herstory in which white motherhood and white mistresshood are sisters in subjugation. The author literarily autopsies Nig’s raciogenesis as black, her sociopolitical genealogy as enslaved, and her etiology as melancholic. This essay conceptualizes the domestic maternal passage as her transfer from white mother to mistress, a passage that sets in motion her exile from home and entrance into the hell of slavery. This passage is procreative of her social death and an open wound in her memory of mother loss and her mother hunger. Moreover, she is plagued by racial melancholia insofar as she bewails being governed as black and covets whiteness. Nig tends to her inner wounds by mourning, but social death chokes off her measures to work through her losses. This affective asphyxiation illustrates that her psychic condition arises not from an inner inability to digest loss but from external impediments that forcibly prescribe her inconsolability. This plight delineates Nig as a figure of unweepable wounds unwept in a grievous herstory.

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