Determinism in Quicksand

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During the Harlem Renaissance, many literary works concentrated on celebrating African American heritage. However, many other writers also began concentrating on the darker theme of naturalism. Nella Larsen’s Quicksand illustrates many elements of this movement. These include a biological determinism, where man is conceived of as controlled by his primitive animal instincts and a sociological determinism, whereby the weak are destroyed and the strong survive in a world of struggle and chance. Helga Crane, …

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…in” in any society. It is apparent that Nella Larsen’s Quicksand is concerned with the naturalistic element of determinism. Helga Crane illustrates both a biological and sociological determinism in her animal instinct for “flight” and her inability to conform in any of her environments. Larsen’s ability to integrate these themes into the character of Helga proves that the Quicksand is not only representative of the Harlem Renaissance, but also of the naturalistic movement.