Given how complex Helga is throughout Quicksand, it is completely realistic to see some level of hope in her predicament at the end. Admittedly, a positive end to Helga's narrative would embrace much in way of a deux et machina. One would have to assume that Helga has encountered a threshold of revelation, of sorts. This realization has enabled her to find something substantive to which she can hold in trying to find something better for herself and her children. This ending would repudiate what is the standard read in how Helga sinks further into a deep depression with each one of her children, as she recognizes that age has indeed withered her. Father Time remains undefeated as the options for escape that presented themselves to Helga earlier in the narrative are now absent. The "sliver of hope" resides in Helga understanding that motherhood forces her to commit to something more substantive and real than anything in the past because she is now living for someone or something else than merely herself. There can be a hopeful ending if one accepts that "self- destruction could precipitate its own transformation as grace." In order for this to be accepted, Helga has to "bottom out" so to speak so that her transformation becomes the result of the self- destructive behavior she previously exhibited. It can only work if Helga recognizes that this is the moment for her life to change. Certainly, the ending does not close off the notion of a "sliver of hope" and for it to happen, one has to see Helga as doing something she had never done before.
It is not an easy approach, but nothing that Larsen gives in Quicksandis direct and reductive. Complexity and intricacy are everywhere. I do think that Larsen develops a characterization in which Helga's condition of color does play a role in her predicament. In order for Helga's redemption to be realized, Larsen would be advocating the "White American artistic" condition. Yet, I think that Larsen is painfully aware of the social and psychological destruction that people of color endured in the time period. Certainly, it existed for her. In her own life, Larsen does not experience "self- destruction as grace." Larsen turns her back on the literary community as she gets older, "suffering a period of instability marked by depression and probable alcohol and drug abuse." While she died listed as a nurse, it was evident that "she had not worked for several months." Larsen's own life mirrors Douglass' own assertion that "silence and withdrawal were the fate of some of the greatest black artists of the 1920s in the Depression and after." It is in here where the pain of the Harlem Renaissance is evident in Larsen's own being and possibly mirrored in Helga. She and Helga are the products of both worlds, and thus straddle both realities. How one sees it is more of a reflection of their own social and political views. Perhaps it is Larsen's genius to flip the characterization and socio- psychological realities that Helga faces on us, the reader, than anything else.