The Tragic Fate of an Unrequited Childhood in Quicksand by Nella Larsen

Decent Essays
The Tragic Fate of an Unrequited Childhood in Quicksand by Nella Larsen In reading Quicksand written by Nella Larsen one may come to the end of the book with a reaction much like…’what!’” Then, in frustration, throw the book down, lean an aggravated head back, and continue to ponder the books in its entirety. One may wonder how a promising life could end in such a sad way. Where did Helga Crane go wrong? What could she have done differently? Along with these questions, a reader may feel strongly enough to condemn Helga to her fate. Others may be sympathetic. Either way, close analysis will show that Helga Crane courageously through her actions and opinions tries to listen to her true self, but unfortunately, a rocky childhood…show more content…
Most people achieve a sort of protective immunity, a kind of callousness, toward them. If they didn’t, they couldn’t endure” (273). After this speech, Helga becomes silent, and begins to realize that she does not want to leave. Her respect, and perhaps desire for Anderson, “this man who was talking so earnestly of his work, his plans, his hopes” (273) has caused an immediate change in her attitude. Many readers would feel this is fickle and indecisive. But what human has not committed these same actions? It is not here where she has made a mistake. Later on in the conversation, Anderson mentions her childhood. Here, Helga acts on immature instincts, and becomes selfishly engaged in her own self-pity, “The shamed feeling which had been her penance evaporated. Only lacerated pride remained” (273-274). It is here where Helga Crane walks out and quits. Thus, she left Naxos not because of its less than liberated environment, but purely because she was ashamed of her childhood and prideful of herself. This incident is reminiscent of the fatal personality contradiction that marks her life. In Harlem, Helga acts on various instincts that truly show her depth, her integrity, and her sense of adventure. Arriving there, she is set up with Anne who “was interesting, an odd confusion of wit and intense earnestness; a vivid and remarkable person” (291). They had a nice friendship in Harlem with a social and economic
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