Category Archives: Research Annotation

Project #2 Research Annotation

Jorge Lopez

Professor Rosen

English 2001

5 May 2018

Project #2

Research Annotation:

-Race is a recurrent topic in “Quicksand” by Nella Larsen. It’s one of the many factors that drives the story and influences what happens throughout, affecting how the character feels, the thoughts that run through their mind, and their overall behavior. Helga’s behavior and decisions were heavily impacted by this and is one of the reasons she couldn’t settle down in one place and would jump from one to another. She felt she didn’t fit in and was uncomfortable with herself, her identity. It can be seen in this particular part of the text, “These people yapped loudly of race, of race consciousness, of race pride, and yet suppressed its most delightful manifestations, love of color, joy of rhythmic motion, naive, spontaneous laughter. Harmony, radiance, and simplicity, all the essentials of spiritual beauty in the race they had marked for destructions.” as it highlights the topic of race, and at the time how there was an abundance of offensive racial beliefs, specifically towards blacks. When researching I found sites discussing how it was at the time, the viewpoints of whites and how it impacted blacks negatively. Blacks would be judged for the color of their skin, being called racial slurs and being seen as outcasts, not equal to everyone else as whites believed they were superior in every which way, which obviously led to many problems down the road as people were sickened by the discrimination.


-Deshazo, Zach. “Racial Relations in the 1920s.”, 26 Mar. 2013,

project 2

Linh Ngo

ENG 2001-D536

Prof. Rosen

Spring 2018

Project # 2


Dear Hathi Trust,


Helga Crane was always moving from one place to another throughout her whole life, in hope to search for satisfaction, and happiness. While reading the novel “Quicksand” Helga Crane migration to find her satisfaction, and happiness, is a symbolic to the Great Migration of six million African American during the 1916-1970. In the novel Helga move from Naxos to Chicago’s to New York, and even when she was in Copenhagen she was still unsatisfied. There were many reason to her unsatisfaction  living in these places.

While living in Naxos Helga find herself feeling so much anger and resentment, she hated the rules, and the school system, and she even said the Naxos is evil. Naxos is located in the south which can be refer to the Great Migration where most African American lived the south and migrated to the north due to economic problem, and segregation. Helga decided to leave Naxos she felt like it had grown into a machine. On page 9, Helga thoughts on Naxos was “It was now a show place in the black belt, exemplification of the white rain’s magnanimity, refutation of the black man’s inefficiency” which shows a huge sign of racism. In Naxos Helga felt powerless, she wanted a voice to speak out for her people, and even so the teacher or student wouldn’t dare to go against the naxos rules.

Helga decided to leave Naxos, and headed to Chicago and find work. On her trip to Chicago Helga had to travels by segregated train, and had to pay more than she need to just to have her privacy. This just show how poorly a biracial women like Helga was treated during the 1920. Even in Chicago it was hard for a mix race women like Helga to find a paying jobs. Although Chicago and New York Helga got to associate with middle class blacks, Helga still felt like she was not adopting the culture there. Goes to show that no matter where she went, she was always rejected by people and didn’t feel like she doesn’t belong there. These places did not give Helga satisfaction and the happiness she was searching for.

Migration plays a big part in the novel, as helga and many African American had migrated in search for a better life. On page 5, of the novel “Quicksand” written by Nella Larsen quoted “And he had dared any Northerner to .come south and after looking upon this great institution to say that the Southerner mistreated the Negro.” this statement was made by the “holy white man of god to the black folks” he’s claiming that Naxos is a place where African American are being treated well. According to my research on the great migration, six million African American living in the rural south, migrated to the city of the north. The migration was due to the unsatisfactory economic opportunities for jobs, and harsh segregation law.

Therefore the statement about the negro being well treated in naxos is not true at all. Naxos is a place where the negros would have to follow the rule of the whites, or get mistreated, this place is full of racism. According to the research on the Great Migration quoted “Southern blacks were forced to make their living working the land due to black codes and the sharecropping system, which offered little in the way of economic opportunity, especially after a boll weevil epidemic in 1898 caused massive crop damage across the South.” shows how poorly the African American were treated in the south.

glossary :



Outside Sources/ References:

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 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

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






Thinking further about annotations

As you work on your annotations, please share out topics you’re developing, sources you’re finding, inspiration, clarity, anything that can help. I know the project has been confusing, and I’m working to make it clearer because I think the reward is worth it (I don’t say that like Axel Olsen talks about the reward for Helga holding out for marriage!).

I found a book that’s writing about the depiction of the circus performance in Quicksand:

Afro-Nordic Landscapes: Equality and Race in Northern Europe edited by Michael McEachrane.

Edited to add: I requested this book from John Jay’s library and will bring it to class if it arrives by Wednesday!

Edited to add: interestingly, when I search through Google Scholar, I have access to more of the book! I was curious where the Hutchinson citation was, and found it in the footnote I didn’t have access to initially. Now I see that it’s the book In Search of Nella Larsen, which I have and can bring to campus tomorrow (Tuesday) and have in class on Wednesday.

I was struck by the language I saw when I looked at the song title, “Everybody Gives Me Good Advice”–it had the subtitle “comic coon song.” So I worked that into my Google search and found the book, which might give more info for anyone looking into the circus scene for their annotation.

I hope you’ll continue this discussion by sharing what you find with the class here in the comments.