a twist in the usual

I was really excited to start “Quicksand” because although it has the mostly the same themes as the other books we have read, according to the back of the book, it also incorporates race into the struggle of women being oppressed. The first chapter unravels the story of yet another woman oppressed by classism and sexism and the additional whammy of racism as her story as a teacher in a southern historically black boarding school, Naxos, is depicted. Helga Crane yearns for “complete, mental relaxation” and in the mist of this rest she questions what she wanted, how she ended up there and reveals desires of freedom from the “trivial hypocrisies and careless cruelties” of Naxos. It seemed that the school had intentions of educating black society but still talks down to them, they are somewhat trying to assimilate them into a glimpse of white society and power. Helga realizes all of this and refuses to conform as she sees the people around her have already conformed, including her fiancé, James. She sees her unconformity as proof that she can experience and become more than what others expect, or lack there of, of her. She blames her lack of family for her failure to conform in Naxos and her loneliness in Naxos. I see her not having family as her being anchorless and wanting to float and experience all that she can. Helga reveals many desires that would break her away from her current circumstances: nice things, money, rest, mental relaxation, escape, pride and vanity. She shares her plans and I see this as an indication of her want and need to experience freedom as an independent woman. We have observed this in most of the books we have read, women being oppressed but expressing some sort of want and desire to breakaway from their circumstances and societal standards, but I am interested in seeing how Helga Crane’s story pans out with being suffocated by the “quicksand” of racism.

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One thought on “a twist in the usual

  1. I agree that Helga being family-less leaves her with an odd sense of lonliness. It seems to affect her in all ways of life. The fact she categorizes herself as without a family contributes to her recognition that she has no place to belong. She thinks she doesn’t belong with the Naxos, but she also doesn’t think she belongs with Anne. So far throughout this book we see her ultimate struggle as a mulatto woman trying to find a place she fits in as. Even when others want her to fit in with them she rejects them. It will be interesting to see where Helga ends up.

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