Category Archives: Project #2


Miscegenation – the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types (noun)


Source :


From Quicksand pg 108

“Into this Helga would not enter. Because of its obvious partial truths she felt the need for disusing caution. With a detachment that amazed herself she asked if Aunt Katrina didn’t think, really, that miscegenation was wrong, in fact a principle.


In this part of the novel, Helga questions her aunts beliefs about biracial marriages and if it’s wrong or right. Helga wants to know how other people would react about biracial couples since shes biracial herself. She is having a hard time being accepted by her race.


Fatuous: adjective: complacently or inanely foolish


From: “And this, Helga decided, was what ailed the whole Negro race in America, this fatuous belief in the white man’s God, this childlike trust in full compensation for all woes and privations in “kingdom come.”Sary Jones’s absolute conviction, “In de nex’ worl’ we’sall recompnse’,” came back to her.”

The word fatuous is used to describe how blindly the black people that Helga associates with, follow Christianity.  


Privation: noun: the state of being deprived; especially: lack of what is needed for existence


From: “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen, Chapter 25 – Page 160

“And this, Helga decided, was what ailed the whole Negro race in America, this fatuous belief in the white man’s God, this childlike trust in full compensation for all woes and privations in “kingdom come.”Sary Jones’s absolute conviction, “In de nex’ worl’ we’sall recompnse’,” came back to her.”

The word privation is used to show how much things black people in America have been denied due to their skin color. Helga is upset because black people are willing to put up with being deprived of basic civil rights because of the afterlife that awaits them.

Project # 2 Annotations

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

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

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.”

Works Cited:

Hansan, J.E. “Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation.” Social Welfare History Project, 1 Mar. 2018,                            segregation/.
“Jim Crow Law.”
“Jim Crow Laws – Separate Is Not Equal.” National Museum of American History,                                 


Project 2 Glossary Annotation

  • Laceration  (noun) – a torn and ragged wound


From: “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen, Chapter 15 Page 118

“Helga let that pass because she couldn’t, she felt, explain. It would be too difficult, too mortifying. She had no words which could adequately, and without laceration to her pride, convey to him the pitfalls into which very easily they might step. “I might,” she said, “have considered it once—when I first came. But you, hoping for a more informal arrangement, waited too long. You missed the moment. I had time to think. Now I couldn’t. Nothing is worth the risk. We might come to hate each other. I’ve been through it, or something like it. I know. I couldn’t do it. And I’m glad.”

Here, the word laceration is used to show that Helga does not want to hurt her pride to argue with Axel Olsen about marriage. Axel Olsen proposed Helga for marriage, but Helga refused it by using the excuse of racial difference. In her argument, Helga doesn’t want to marry a white man because she has suffered from the interracial marriage of her parents.

Research Annotation

My research  annotation is about  the different race laws around the time the book was written.

“ Public Assemblages Act, the General Assembly required the racial segregation of all public events in Virginia. The act became law without the signature of Governor Harry F. Byrd Sr. on March 22, 1926”  

As well as the Colored persons and Indians defined Code of Virginia (1924) which defined a  colored person as having one-sixteenth or more “negro blood”.

And finally “Another proposed law, to be white a person must have “no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian”—in other words, the standard already being applied by Walter Plecker. However, people who had less than one sixty-fourth part Indian and no African American heritage would still be considered white.”   



These are just some of the  examples  of race law that would have been i affect when then character would gave been born.These examples show us that people like Helga were being put into an unsavory position.

Laws like this were rampant in the south where she was and its important to know this because it adds to her feeling of not belonging even more.If there was a annotation on the many race laws of the time people would really start to understand Helga’s internal struggle even more.




Project 2 Glossary Annotation:

  • Aped (verb) – to copy closely but often clumsily and ineptly

Source –

From: “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen, Chapter 9 Page 80

“She hated white people with a deep and burning hatred, with the kind of hatred which, finding itself held insufficiently numerous groups, was capable someday, on some great provocation, of bursting into dangerously malignant flames. But she aped their clothes, their manners, and their gracious ways of living. While proclaiming loudly the undiluted good of all things Negro, she yet disliked the songs, the dances, and the softly blurred speech of the race. Toward these things, she showed only a disdainful contempt, tinged sometimes with a faint amusement. Like the despised people of the white race, she preferred Pavlova to Florence Mills, John McCormack to Taylor Gordon, Walter Hampden to Paul Robeson.”

In this passage, the author depicts Helga as someone who would adapt to a better lifestyle to be accepted by the society, but keep her traditional values. Even though Helga hates white people, she follows their fashion and lifestyle. Helga also prefers the music that the white people like. This shows that Helga is conflicted between the African-American culture and the lifestyle of white people.

Project #2 thesis statement drafts

thesis statements for Project #2:

An annotation about the Great Migration would be helpful for readers because the Great Migration is symbolic of Helga’s migration through her quest for contentment.

  • reflect on Great Migration annotation
  • think about it in the context of a few examples
    • Naxos to Chicago
    • Chicago to NY
    • What’s at stake with leaving Harlem for Copenhagen? for the South?
    • somewhere along the way: glossary entry references

Color is important for Helga, and a sticking point in contrast to others who want people of color to blend in or to stand out. Knowing background about fashion trends and who was supposed to wear color and who avoid it would help readers consider Helga’s dilemma with her appearance.

[Helga Crane is told that colored women should not wear bright colors but should wear dull or not bright colors. But what should be known is that the color of the clothing would depend on whether you were a working woman or a housewife.]

Because of her time in Copenhagen, Helga truly feels like an outsider.

Copenhagen is such a culture shock that Helga feels like an outsider not just because of her race but also because of ??? and ???.

Understanding the demographics of the 1920s can illuminate how racism affects Helga’s decision about marriage and having children.

Project #2 Acceptance in Communities

David Peikrishvili
300 Jay St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

1001 North Buhr Building
200 Hill Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

To whom it may concern,

       I hope this letter reaches one of your Editors at HathiTrust. I am writing this concerning one of the edits for Nella Larsen’s story “Quicksand”.  While I was reading the text, i thought maybe there could be some changes/edits that can be implemented in order to enhance the visitors viewing experience. Throughout the text, it would be easier for the reader to understand the main plot or theme, if they are given the proper annotations that can help them out. This story would probably be more appropriate for any ages. This story can impact someone depending on what they like to read or are interested in. The concept isn’t too hard to understand and can leave the reader questioning Helga’s decisions through the whole story. Why is it that Helga is so uncertain of herself and why can’t she find a place to settle down and start a family? These are the types of questions that an ordinary reader would ask, and that is why I suggest making some of the upcoming edits, in order to help readers understand more about Helga’s way of thinking. 

     The story revolves around Helga Crane who tries to find a place she can call home and settle down. She finds herself skipping around all over the place, trying out different communities and never find “the one”. A quote that appears in the beginning of the story stated by Dr.Anderson can be referred to throughout most of the chapters. He stated that “ Someday you’ll learn that lies, injustice, and hypocrisy are a part of every ordinary community. Most people achieve a sort of protective immunity, a kind of callousness, toward them”(Quicksand, Page 53-54). This quote isn’t wrong at all, we could definitely tell that while Helga was running all over the place, all the communities had some of these facts in common. The reader could clearly understand that Dr.Anderson’s words were no bluffs.

    To make things more supporting, we can use outside sources to enhance and reinforce the readers comprehension of the story. For example the article written by Elisabeth Hudson from King’s College London provides a well in depth description of the whole reading without leaving out any important details. One of the descriptions were: “Helga struggles deeply to come to terms with her identity as a mulatto woman in Quicksand. She experiments with several different modes of living: living among black people in an urban environment and in a rural environment, and living among white people. In none of these environments is she able to be herself completely, and she always feels suffocated by the expectations of society”(Elizabeth Hudson). This statement illustrates the main idea of the story and the main reason why Helga cannot find herself and her home. For Helga, Naxos was never a real home, “she could no longer abide being connected with a place of shame, lies,hypocrisy,cruelty,servility, and snobbishness”(Quicksand, Page 48). Why does Helga not remain in one place? Why does she not accept a community, all these questions can be answered by simple annotations done to the text, just like these ones. It is important to provide the reader proper citations and examples not only from the text itself, but also from other articles or reviews about “Quicksand”. With both, defined vocabulary words and extra information, people can more or less extract the important main idea from the whole text without being left in confusion or with questions. For me, the important factor in annotations is having certain paragraphs or words explained using real world examples or just having them simplified.

There is a term that’s used to characterize Helga in a way, it’s called “Tragic Mulatto“. This term is used to describe a person, (in this case Helga) who has a negative view of the world and the things around her because of her race. Mostly being a colored individual not being able to fit into the “white community” or into any community that is divide by race. It would be a bit simpler if Helga was just one race/color. But she is mixed, so it’s hard to find a place that accepts both white and colored. Even though this is true, at the same time Helga could have tried somehow to gain some kind of authority or power from both races. I think that due to her unknown personality, she was unable to think straight and chooses a path for a better future than what she got.

     I was actually able to foreshadow some events from the beginning of the text by using the clues and the descriptions about Helga’s personality and  her “wants and needs”. Also while reading the story, I noticed that every other character had a place they could call home. They had jobs, people to hang around or talk to and they actually had a somewhat clear mindset about the future. Helga could have stayed in a couple of places and start a good life but no, she decided to live a hard life as we see in the end of the last chapter. That was definitely not the type of ending that I was looking for but that was her decision so she should never had regretted it afterwards. With all of this information put into annotations into the text, I believe that the readers will experience the text much better. Thank you for taking your time to read this letter.

           Sincerely, David Peikrishvili



Works Cited

Hudson, Elisabeth, “The Relationship Between Colour and Identity in the Literature of  Nella Larsen and Richard Wright” 2008. Visited on 5/6/2018.

Larsen Nella, Quicksand: Nella Larsen – Charles R.Larson – Anchor Books – 2001



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.