May 9, 2018
Hathi Trust Project:
Dear editor, my name is Jahanzeb Siddiqy and I attend the New York City College of Technology. I have read the digital edition of Quicksand was made available online thanks to your organization. I am writing to propose that a digital annotated version of Quicksand also be made available to the audience. I have found that having access to external information sources while reading a work provides the audience with additional insight and helps the reader view the work from a more realistic perspective.
An example of this would be in Quicksand, which is set mostly in America during the early 1900s, a period in which racism and segregation was prevalent in society. Throughout the book, many references to racism and laws which suppress African Americans are made, however, if the reader does not have access to how exactly this influenced African Americans during that time, it makes it difficult to understand the Protagonists point-of-view.
For example, in the first chapter of Quicksand, the protagonist finds the speech of a white preacher greatly repulsive. This was due to him saying, “And he had dared any northerner to come south and after looking upon this great institution to say that the southerner mistreated the negro. And he had said that if all Negroes would only take a leaf out of the book of Naxos and conduct themselves in the manner of the Naxos products there would be no race problem, because Naxos negroes knew what was expected of them.” In his speech, he also urges Negros not to be Avaricious and to have contentment with what they are given. Although the reader gets a general idea of the preachers sense of superiority in the text, it still remains unclear as to what causes this sense of superiority and why Helga seems to find this as a personal insult. However, if one looks to the Jim Crow laws, which can be found in my annotations here, it is clear that this was during a time in which laws were being passed which suppressed African Americans and other people of color, and under the guise of ‘seperate but equal’ facilities, ended up depriving people of color from proper facilities. A result of these laws were that it was made difficult for people of color to ever come out of their cycle of poverty and some whites would continue to view themselves as superior to colored people.
If one takes into account this external information, it is evident that such a speech delivered by a white man at a school for colored people would lead the colored people to feel offended. As can be seen, having access to a digital annotated version made it easier for the reader to connect with characters within the story.
Thank you for taking the time to read and consider my proposal. I look forward to to hearing from you soon.