In Quicksand, why does Helga Crane find dancing to jazz distasteful as a woman in the Harlem nightclub scene? In what ways does she feel objectified? Discuss in detail.

In Quicksand, Helga Crane's "distaste" for jazz dancing is related to her drive to stay autonomous. The jazz music makes Crane feel "drugged, lifted, sustained by the extraordinary music." There are lots of examples of Crane’s unease over feelings she can’t control.

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In Quicksand, our main character Helga Crane seems to have quite a conflicting reaction to the jazz music and dancing she witnesses in Harlem.

When she first enters the space in chapter 11, our narrator tells us how a "blare of jazz split her ears." This lets us know...

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In Quicksand, our main character Helga Crane seems to have quite a conflicting reaction to the jazz music and dancing she witnesses in Harlem.

When she first enters the space in chapter 11, our narrator tells us how a "blare of jazz split her ears." This lets us know how invasive and forceful Crane finds jazz. It's almost as if the music is assaulting or beating her.

A couple of paragraphs later, we see more aggressive language when she describes people "violently twisting their bodies, like whirling leaves, to a sudden streaming rhythm, or shaking themselves ecstatically to a thumping of unseen tomtoms."

It's almost as if Crane is watching possessed people or people under some kind of ecstatic spell. Maybe it'd be more accurate to say that Crane was intoxicated. Larsen tells us Crane was "drugged, lifted, sustained by the extraordinary music." When the music stops, she feels "shameful." She has a "determination to get away" and to not be a "jungle creature."

You use the word "objectified." Is that what Crane feels? Or is there a different feeling? Let's look at Crane's story. When we review Crane's trajectory, we see a pattern. She doesn't like to feel out of control or to surrender to her feelings. Remember how she was attracted to Dr. Anderson? Then what happened? He calls her a "lady," and that's that.

For me, Crane's "distaste" for jazz has less to do with objectification and more to do with maintaining her autonomy and independence. She doesn’t like how jazz makes her feel out of control.

If you were to talk about objectification, it might be interesting to discuss how Crane objectifies the people dancing to jazz and how she turns them into mere bodies or objects.

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