Monthly Archives: April 2018

“The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich

In “The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich, who is the narrator?

first-person, “our people”

Ah, grandson of Aanakwaad and her husband.

What is the narrator’s relationship to the other characters in the story?



her husband

5yo son

9yo daughter

her lover

their baby

lover’s uncle

4 years younger: Doris (sister) and Raymond (brother) and their husband and wife (also siblings)

father (drinker, abuser)

Research Annotation and Glossary Annotation together

Justin Liang

Professor Rosen

ENG 2001-D536


Research Annotation

“Quicksand.” Edited by Rianna Walcott, Project Myopia, Sarah Thomson, 19 July 2017,


Sarah Thomson write her recollection about what Quicksand was about.  In this article Sarah talks about how race and color effects certain things Helga wants to do. Sarah uses the example in the book about when Helga is returning to the US. Sarah continues with saying how Helga’s “facile surrender to the irresistible ties of race seems almost inevitable, as we witness her trying and failing to transcend the issue of race in each community she inhabits” Using the example with Helga arriving to New York and wanting to turn back Sarah’s explanation helped me understand this.


“Harlem.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 May 2018,


I searched up the history of Harlem to find out why Helga Crane liked living in Harlem. I learned that Harlem is a community for people of color. This new information made me realize that when Helga first arrived in New York she wanted to go back due to the fact that there were mostly white people living there. She thought that she wasn’t going to be treated properly due to the fact of her skin color. So, stumbling to Harlem she saw that the community was mostly black and felt safer in a way.


“Quicksand – Introduction” eNotes Publishing Ed. Scott Locklear.,

Inc. 7 May, 2018

I searched up summaries asking for why Helga didn’t want to stay in Denmark and marry Axel and stumbled upon this summary. In the summary it explains why Helga decided to go back to Harlem. The reasoning was because Helga says that she can’t imagine herself living forever away from colored people.  Reading this helped me see what Helga’s thought process for doing this.


Justin Liang

Professor Rosen

ENG 2001-D536


Glossary Annotation

Nasturtiums– A South American trailing plant with round leaves and bright orange, yellow, or red edible flowers that is widely grown as an ornamental.

I found this word in the first chapter and it was in the second sentence.

“Only a single reading lamp, dimmed by a great black and red shade, made a pool of light on the blue Chinese carpet, on the bright covers of the books which she had taken down from their long shelves, on the white pages of the opened one selected, on the shinning brass bowl crowded with many-colored nasturtiums beside her on the low table, and on the oriental silk which covered the stool at her slim feet”

After looking up the work I realized that the author was describing the setting in Helga’s room. Nasturtiums were the flowers that were next to her on the low table.

Unsparingly – Unmerciful; severe. Generous or unstinting.

I found this word in the first chapter on page 2.

“But that was what she liked after her taxing day’s work, after the hard classes, in which she gave willingly and unsparingly of herself with no apparent return.”

After looking up this work I kinda thought that Helga was going to her classes just to go. She just went but she didn’t receive anything in return








Inefficiency – the quality or state of being inefficient

The word inefficiency which was found on page 9, it quoted  “It had grown into a machine. It was now a show place in the black belt, exemplification of the white rain’s magnanimity, refutation of the black man’s inefficiency” in this quote the word was used toward a black man which stated black man aren’t capable and useless, this just show racism in my opinion. This is saying that black man is not capable to do things, example work, or being successful in society.


Transitive verb

Satisfied – to carry out the terms of (something, such as a contract)

The word Satisfied was used on page 6 of  “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen, is a fitted word to use to describe my topic of  racism, because no matter where Helga goes she is still not accepted by people. In the novel the word was used in the quotes “And then he had spoken of contentment, embellishing his words with scriptural quotations and pointing out to them that it was their duty to be satisfied the estate to which they had been called, hewers of wood and drawers of water” this show that the negros or mix race should have been satisfied with how they are treated in society.


negligee- informal attire usually made of a sheer fabric.

negligee: a noun

E.g a robe, night gown

Helga Crane was described wearing it at an early part of the book while she is still at Naxos reading in her room.

“In vivid green and gold negligee and glistening brocaded mules, deep sunk in the big high-backed chair, against whose dark tapestry her sharply cut face, with skin like yellow satn, was distinctly outlined, she was- to use a hackneyed word- attractive.” (page 36)

the word comes from the French word négligé which literally meant neglected, which I found interesting. I am actually embarrassed, I knew this word, I just did not know that this was how it was spelled.


Insidiously (adverb) – awaiting a chance to entrap

“The incident left her profoundly disquieted. Her old unhappy questioning mood came again upon her, insidiously stealing away more of the contentment from her transformed existence.” (pg.113)

The characteristic of non-optimistic questioning appeared again as if it was waiting for the chance to come out and seize it’s moment. Which wounded up making her unhappy about her life.


Satin (noun)- A smooth, glossy fabric, usually of silk, produced by a weave in which the threads of the warp are caught and looped by the weft only at certain intervals.

  1. ‘flowing skirts made of satin, chiffon, and velvet’ 
  2. [as modifier] ‘a blue satin dress’                    

“A slight girl of twenty-two, with narrow, sloping shoulders and delicate but well-turned arms and legs, she had, none the less an air of radiant, careless health. In vivid green and gold negligee and glistening brocaded mules, deeply sunk in the big high-backed chair, against whose dark tapestry her sharply cut face, with skin like yellow satin, was distinctly outlined, she wasn’t to use a hackneyed word-attractive.”

From: Quicksand: chapter 1, page 36

Helga Crane loves to wear bright colors whether it’s inside the house or outside. Therefore, she more pays attention to her skincare as well. For a women skin, care is the most important thing in order to look beautiful inside the cloths. Helga skin is very silky and soft like a Sation and it makes her look more attractive.



Exhortation: noun: language intended to incite and encourage


From: “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen – Chapter 20, Page 141

“Helga Crane was amused, angry, disdainful, as she sat there, listening to the preacher praying for her soul. But though she was contemptuous, she was being too well entertained to leave. And it was, at least, warm and dry. So she stayed. listening to the fervent exhortation to God to save her and to the zealous shoutings and groanings of the congregation.”

Exhortation is used to describe the passionate words of the congregation when they were speaking to God to save Helga.



extreme vigor or energy

I encountered this word on page 225

“She was anxious to be a true help-
mate, for in her heart was a feeling of obliga-
tion, of humble gratitude.
In her ardor and sincerity Helga even
made some small beginnings. True, she was not
very successful in this matter of innovations.”

I knew that this word was connected to sincerity in a way but I could not tell which way. This passage now makes more sense because it fits with her characterization as the preachers wife.Helga has shown that she doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere.Not with her family,not with her friend who shares the same tastes,not with black people in Harlem and not even at a place where she was pampered.Helga saw a chance here and took it.Now shes loved as the preachers wife and shes trying hard to be perfect and teach others to be aesthetically pleasing.Her life as the preachers wife has made her work hard because she thinks shes going to get what shes always wanted.A family,a place to belong.Helga is putting as much energy as she can into this situation because she does not want o lose the only chance she believes she has at happiness/a place to belong.