Quicksand by Nella Larsen

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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I liked reading Nella Larsen?s ?Quicksand? novel. I read this story half realizing it to be fiction and half of my hope of wishing it were true. True to the style of the Harlem Renaissance, Larsen uses personal experiences and everyday experiences. Also, in homage to the Harlem Renaissance style Larson chooses to describe the social situations of African Americans in that time period.

While her character Helga Crane infrequently encounters the across-the-board cruelty that the poets experienced, Crane experiences racial prejudices from her family. This leads Crane to struggle for her own identity throughout the novel.

She uses her large vocabulary to tell the tale of a young mullatoe woman who makes several lifestyle changes during her life. Helga Crane is somewhat of a lost child in the world only blending in for a second until her true, unstable self is exposed. This sense of finding her place in the world is a major issue in this novel.

I believe that due to the denial of a place in her own family in America, Helga finds herself, searching for herself. For a large part of the novel, Crane keeps up this charade of life, before finding temporary solace in religion. The quest for understanding from God, eventually leads to her marriage and her downward spiral. I was largely disappointed with the ending of this novel. Crane seems like she had a good head on her shoulders. She was an educated woman, and seemed to have positive future ahead of her. As an African American woman, I can relate to the quest for self and the snare of racism and sexism along the way. Often, people become immersed in trying to discover themselves that they lose themselves in the process. I think that this story is a great...