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Helga's Pursuit to FInd Herself Essay

  • Submitted by: fcgsnhow8187
  • on August 3, 2009
  • Category: Arts and Music
  • Length: 1,294 words

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Below is an essay on "Helga's Pursuit to FInd Herself" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

In Quicksand by Nella Larsen, the main character, Helga Crane, experiences the difficulties that people of mixed race faced in America during the Harlem Renaissance.   In the story, Nella Larsen portrays the hardships that people like Helga experienced.   She also uses social environments and gender “norms” of the Harlem Renaissance to help represent Helga’s character.   Helga tries to live a life where she is free to be herself by living in different environments, but her yearning to be an individual, while being a woman and of mixed race, makes it hard for her to be herself and to be happy.
In the story, Helga is constantly struggling to find herself as a woman of mixed race who can fit into the early 20th century society in which she lives.   She desires to find a place where she is understood and welcomed as a woman of mixed race, however, through her journeys she finds that such a place does not exist.   She is too nonconformist and broadminded for a time when race and gender “norms” follow a conventional perspective.   This outlook is expressed when Helga meets Mrs. Hayes-Rore, her new employer, and they discuss Helga’s heritage.   After Helga tells Mrs. Hayes-Rore she comes from “race intermingling and possibly adultery”, Mrs. Hayes-Rore advises Helga, “…I wouldn’t mention that my people are white, if I were you. Colored people won’t understand it, and after all it’s your own business…” (1745-1747).   This quote tells a lot about Helga’s complex dilemma.   In this section Mrs. Hayes-Rore describes that
an integration of the two races and cultures is considered unacceptable.   Mrs. Hayes-Rore implies that Helga, in theory, she should not exist because her surrounding environment and the expectations of race do not permit that kind of thing.   Mrs. Hayes-Rore states, “For among black people, as among white people, it is tacitly understood that these things are not mentioned--and therefore they do not exist” (1745).   This mind-set of Mrs. Hayes-Rore represents the...

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