The Jim Crow laws were in effect during the time the story in Nella Larson’s “Quicksand” takes place and you can see the effect of the Jim Crow laws in various parts of the story.
The Jim Crow laws refers to a set of laws that were in effect until around the mid 1960’s which claimed to provide separate yet equal accommodations for whites and colored people. For example one such law stated :
“All railroads carrying passengers in the state (other than street railroads) shall provide equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races, by providing two or more passenger cars for each passenger train, or by dividing the cars by a partition, so as to secure separate accommodations.”
—Tennessee, 1891“(Taken from Americanhistory.si.edu)
Similar laws were passed regarding educational institutions and even the social interactions between whites and colored people.
Although these laws claimed to provide separate yet equal accommodations, this was rarely ever the case. White institutions were often much better off and developed while those made for colored people were poorly funded and in poor condition.
“Jim Crow Laws were statutes and ordinances established between 1874 and 1975 to separate the white and black races in the American South. In theory, it was to create “separate but equal” treatment, but in practice Jim Crow Laws condemned black citizens to inferior treatment and facilities.”(Taken from socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu)
This would help us understand the story better by providing us a better perspective on what the world Nella Larsen grew up in was like. For example, in the first chapter, when the preacher was delivering a speech to Naxos, he said “This was, he told them, the finest school for negroes anywhere in the country, north or south; it was better even than a great many schools for white children.” If someone unaware of the Jim Crow laws were reading this, they would have been confused when the preacher referred to “Negro schools” and “White schools.”
Hansan, J.E. “Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation.” Social Welfare History Project, 1 Mar. 2018, socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/eras/civil-war-reconstruction/jim-crow-laws-andracial- segregation/.
“Jim Crow Law.” https://www.britannica.com/event/Jim-Crow-law
“Jim Crow Laws – Separate Is Not Equal.” National Museum of American History, americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/1-segregated/jim-crow.html.