Monthly Archives: May 2018


Pabulum (noun) – intellectual sustenance

“”You must,” the Reverend Mr. Pleasant Green would say unctuously, “trust the Lord more fully, Helga.” This pabulum did not irritate her.” (277, online version)

Understanding this word tells us that the way how Reverend Mr. Pleasant Green was talking to Helga in a way to persuade her to trust more in God was acceptable in her mind. She was willing to allow his spiritual talk to move her to see what he was saying was the right way even though she looked and believed in not trusting God so much.


Unctuously (adjective) – full of unction; especially revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality

“”You must,” the Reverend Mr. Pleasant Green would say unctuously, “trust the Lord more fully, Helga.” (277 online version)

Understanding this word tells me how he said what he said towards Helga. He said it trying to sound earnest and righteous in a way so it seems and sounds right despite her view on God in the past.

Happy summer, and a few more things (Glossary entries!)

Thank you, everyone, for an enlightening semester and an enjoyable last class. A few announcements:

*If you are missing any glossary entries, we negotiated a absolute last final no-later-than deadline of end-of-day Thursday (which means I will look at them as soon as I wake up on Friday to finalize grades). If you don’t have 15, take this opportunity to finish!

*I gave final exam grades to everyone in class. If you want your final exam grade but weren’t in class, let me know and we can make arrangements.

*I will be sending you comments and grades for Project #2 by replying privately to your Project #2 post.

*Finally, we talked in our last class, to mirror our first-day conversation, about what fiction we’re reading now or this summer, and sharing recommendations. If you have favorites to share, or are seeking recommendations, comment here. I hope you all have big reading plans for the summer!

Enjoy your summer school, summer jobs, summer studies, and most especially, summer fun!




Finicky (adjective) – extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards

“In the certainty of his goodness, his righteousness, his holiness, Helga somehow overcame her first disgust at the odor of sweat and stale garments. She was even able to be unaware of it. Herself, Helga had come to look upon as a finicky, showy thing of unnecessary prejudices and fripperies.” (271-272 online version)

Understanding this meaning tells us that Helga was able to focus on exactly what she wanted to focus on which was the admiration of the man and was able to block out the disgusting smell of sweat and stale clothes.


Clamor (noun) – noisy shouting

“And in that moment she was lost-or saved. The yelling figures about her pressed forward, closing her in on all sides. Maddened, she grasped at the railing, and with no previous intention began to yell like one insane, drowning in every other clamor, while torrents of tears streamed down her face.” (254, online version)

This word kind of paints a picture of how she was yelling/crying by showing us that the yell would start off loud and then slowly began to get lower and lower. Once it’s low then tears will begin to fall down her face and then the yelling/shouting/crying will begin again at the loudest to gradually lower.



Aghast (adjective) – shocked and upset

“James was aghast. He forgot to be embarrassed. “But Helga! Good heavens! Don’t you see that if we-I mean people like us-don’t have children, the others will still have. That’s one thing that’s the matter with us. The race is sterile at the top” (231, online version)

The word ‘aghast’ tells us how James facial reaction was towards Helga’s response. It shows that he was not expecting Helga, who wants black people to be appreciated, so he thought she would have kids with another black man like him. But was not the case so it took him by surprise and thought that she didn’t understand the importance of it.

project 2


Mahnoor Sheikh

Jody Rosen

Eng 2001-D536


Dear Hathitrust,

I am a college freshman at New York City College of Technology otherwise known as City Tech. I am in an introduction to fiction course where my classmates and I utilize your digital copy of Nella Larsen’s Quicksand in our lectures. It is a really a helpful source, I would like to thank you for making it available to students. It is especially helpful for students who are unable to buy a physical copy of the book and makes it much easier for everyone to be on the same page, pun intended, during lectures since passages from the text can physically be projected on the board and seen all around the class. My only criticism of your digital rendition is that it is not taking advantage of its full potential as a digital document. Almost everything is on the internet nowadays, and you are not the only free platform to provide literature to students. So to set yourself apart from other websites I suggest making your document interactive. Beyond allowing readers the ability to go over and copy lines in order to make siting the document easier. But to also include annotations within the story to clarify any potential confusion, much like the left pages in Shakespearean plays.

Since the language of that time was so drastically different and in those stories specifically many words, geographical and temporal aspects of setting and even actions had to be explained. For example in Romeo and Juliet in an early scene, between a capulet and montague,


“SAMPSON I do bite my thumb, sir.

ABRAM Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON (aside to GREGORY) Is the law of our side if I say “ay”?”


Upon first reading this without any clarification or subtext a student would be lost, but on the opposing page it is explained the feud between both families and the offensive meaning behind biting your thumb, being the equivalent of raising a middle finger at someone. The annotations would also be beneficial in explaining to people key references that require outside knowledge.

Another example could be found in Junot Diaz’s short story “How to Date a Brown Girl.” “Your brother once heard that one and said, Man, that sounds like a whole lot of Uncle Tomming to me. Don’t repeat this.” Not everyone will understand what makes this statement as offensive as it is because they do not understand that Uncle Tom has become a derogatory “epithet for an exceedingly subservient person, particularly when that person is aware of their own lower-class status based on race.” Which in this specific story cements the protagonist’s prior claim that he does not like black girls while also making him seem even less likeable that before.

Now in the scenario of being applied specifically to Quicksand, an annotation that I believe would be helpful to understanding Helga’s crisis of identity and feeling accepted would be one at the circus when the performers come out and sing the song “ Everybody Gives Me Good Advice.” Helga’s  discomfort at the circus/ her dismay to the at the performance are important for her to make the realization that Copenhagen could never truly be her home since she would be denying half of her own identity as a mixed race woman of color. This scene triggered me because I felt in the novel it did not explain well enough if these performers were black or if it was a sort of minstrel show involving black face. I also think in the annotation a link to the actual song would be helpful as well, along with examples of the type of dance since Helga described them as frolecking and prancing. Even an example poster art for clowns and how they were rendered. And just conducting themselves in bamboolish ways.

My point is simply that more information given to the reader allows them to draw more conclusion based off of the text and analyze it deeper their own way.


Annotation Example:

According to Martyn Bone the circus scene is actually based off of a time Nella Larsen went to ne herself and the shock she experienced witnessing black performers, and she even brings p the never mentioned in “Quicksand” the danish slavery and colonization of the time. And upon doing research into the song used it was described as a “coon song,” so there is a blatant derogatory treatment of black people for enjoyment in this scene.



1.contentment, a state of happiness and satisfaction.“,Her old unhappy questioning mood came again upon her, insidiously stealing away more of the contentment from her transformed existence”


  1.  Vaudeville,a type of entertainment popular chiefly in the US in the early 20th century, featuring a mixture of specialty acts such as burlesque comedy and song and dance,a vaudeville house, in search of amusement on a rare night off.



Nella Larsen – Charles R.Larson – Anchor Books – 2001

Afro-nordic landscapes: equality and race in northern europe Routledge – 2016


defiant(adjective)- showing defiance.


On page 82 of Quicksand by Nella Larsen it says , “She felt a sharp stinging sensation and a recurrence of that anger and defiant desire to hurt which had so seared her on that past morning in Naxos”

After learning what the word meant, i think its important because it helps the characteristics of Helga and it gives a better understanding of what Helga is feeling. You get a better understanding of her character.


ostracized(verb) – exclude (someone) from a society or group.

source –

IN chapter 11 of Quicksand by Nella Larsen it says, ” ‘It’s the principle of the thing that I object to. You can’t get around the fact hat her behavior is outrageous,treacherous, in fact. That’s what’s the matter with the Negro race. They won’t stick together. She certainly ought to be ostracized.”

After learning the definition of the word, I know now how Anne felt about colored people because  she saw Dr. Anderson danced with a colored woman and Anne felt so jealous and hatred toward the woman. The author shows how white people mistreated people of color and discriminated them.


vexed(adjective) – annoyed, frustrated, or worried.


On chapter 14 it says, ” Helga’s own feelings were mixed; she was amused, grateful and vexed. It had all been decided and rragned without her, and also, she was a little afraid of Olsen.”

After knowing what this word means,  i have a better understand about how Helga feels around Axel Olsen.