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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
Hudson, Elisabeth, “The Relationship Between Colour and Identity in the Literature of Nella Larsen and Richard Wright” 2008. https://lurj.org/issues/volume-3-number-2/colour. Visited on 5/6/2018.
Larsen Nella, Quicksand: Nella Larsen – Charles R.Larson – Anchor Books – 2001