The word appears 4 times.
This story of a young girl growing up mid-20th century in North Carolina contains examples of the attitude of the times. Since the story does not revolve around these attitudes the examples are few, but present nonetheless. It might have been possible to write this book without these references as they have almost nothing to do with the plot. They do help illustrate the importance of class in this culture since, no matter how impoverished you were, you were still better as a white person than any black person.
"It's a god damn nigger shanty! Don't they care how they live?" He couldn't put us in such a house, he insisted. He moved his instead to a cinder block house where the tile floors were always peeling up in the damp where they didn't stay very long anyway. "But a decent neighborhood," he told mama who, said nothing, just unpack the dishes one more time
A long flight of steps ran off the porch and looked back past the lower apartment extending down to the yard. Grey and Earle were sitting on the top steps, leaning over to watch the kids from downstairs, who are looking out their windows up to where we all stood. Shiny brown faces kept pressing against the glass and then withdrawing, stern blank faces that we could barely tell one from the other.
"Niggers," Grey whispered proudly. "Scared of us."
I wrapped my fingers around the banister rail, working splinters loose from the dry wood, and leaned over to look for myself. I had never seen colored people up close, and I was curious about these. They did look scared.
After that things got a little easier. Grey showed his pocketknife to the boys downstairs and in turn admired a set of tools the oldest boy had from his father. It was only the girl who held herself aloof, staying with her mother while the boys played out in the yard.
"She's pretty, if niggers can be pretty," Grey told me, "but not friendly. Looks like she expects me to bite her neck or something."
Reese tugged my arm, allowing me to talk to her, but I couldn't speak around the hunger in my throat.
From behind the rosebushes, I heard Darrell and James talking. "Look at that car. Just like any nigger trash, get something like that."
"What you expect? Look what he married."
"Her and the kids sure go with that car..."