Whats is Larsens view of identity in her book Quicksand?
There are multiple identity issues at play in this novel. Helga Crane is searching for her social identity, her family identity, her racial identity and her sexual identity.
Helga is a mulatta, as was Nella Larsen herself, but she is not at home in either black or white society. She is a teacher at a prestigious school for Blacks in the South, but she finds Black society is just as prejudiced in its own way as White society. She is engaged, but she does not love her fiance. She finds she has sexual feelings for the headmaster, but she cannot act on them, so she escapes. She leaves the South and heads to Chicago, where she has family, but her family rejects her. She moves to Harlem to live among Blacks but is warned to keep her "white" part a secret because the Blacks will not understand. She is comfortable socially in Harlem, but not racially, so she moves to Denmark, hoping that her "white" relatives will welcome her. They do, but they treat her as an exotic, not an equal, and she soon finds herself yearning for her Black roots. She returns to Harlem, but is again faced with unresolved sexual feelings. When she is spurned by Dr. Anderson, she plunges into depression and in a mad night, marries a southern Black preacher, way below her in social standing. She finds sexual fulfillment, but at a high cost - she plunges into social sucide as the wife of a back woods, Southern Preacher. She winds up having too many babies, one right after the other, but now she is trapped by her gender, social class and race. Helga's identities are confused throughout the novel and she never finds peace in any of them. It is a tragic story.