The word appears 8 times.
The book takes place during the era of RAGTIME - when racism was the norm in the U.S. Folks were openly racist. Blacks are mistreated, and at one point there is a revolt and a museum is taken over.
... a black man's car has been pushed out of the road and had feces flung all over it by a bunch of fireman...
"Willie, the policeman said to the Fire Chief, did you or your boys do any desecratin? I'll tell you what happened, the Chief said. The nigger here parked his damn car in the middle of the road right in front of the firehouse. It's serious business blocking a fire station, ain't it boys? The volunteers nodded righteously. The big policeman came to a decision. He took Coalhouse aside. Listen, he said, we'll push your tin lizze back on the road and you be on your way. There's no real damage. Scrape off the shit and forget the whole thing.
You can tell them he's the same crazed black killer who sat by the bedside of someone who died in the hospital of her injuries. Father said I hope I misunderstand you. Would you defend this savage? Does he have anyone but himself to blame for Sarah’s death? Anything but his damnable nigger pride? Nothing under heaven can excuse the killing of men and the destruction of property in this manner!
He was by turn bombastic and craven. He offered counsel of the same level of wisdom that had triggered the crisis in the first place. He wanted to go to the black neighborhood and clean all the niggers out once and for all. The officers heard this with disinterest. They teased him about his fate. We may have to give you to the boogie man, Willie, they said. Just to get some peace around here.
Of course, he would not admit it. He boasted of the precautions he had taken at his yard. Not relying on the two posed policemen, he had enlisted all the survivors of the Emerald Isle to billet themselves at his place. They were armed. The nigger might as well attach West Point, he said.
The miserable fellow understood nothing and saw the public outcry for his exile not in its larger strategy, as a means of defusing the situation, nor even in the small, as a means of perhaps saving his own live. He felt martyred by what he called the nigger lovers, even though these now seemed to constitute virtually the entire population of the city.
After a study of these he authorized a reconnaissance by a single athletic patrolman who was to gain access to the Library roof and look in the domed skylight over the central hall and the East Room to determine how many niggers were in there.The colonel waved his finger in the air. If we don’t take car of that son of a bitch, if we don’t go in there and cut off his balls, you’ll have every nigger in the country at your throat! Then where will you be with your Bibles?
Father looked up and found the District Attorney glaring at him. This is the one way I would never consider, Whitman said. I can’t give in to the coon. Even to hang him. I can’t afford it. It would finish me. Goddamnit, I took car of that son of a bitch Becker. The crime of the century. That’s what the papers called it. And now the D.A. giving it to a nigger? No, sir! It can’t be done!