Helga Crane at the End of the Novel

Women in South

A group of African-American women in the 1920's. 

As we reach the end of Quicksand, anonymity begins to function negatively for Helga Crane. After Helga marries the Reverend and moves south, it seems at first that she has reached her goal of anonymity. She has found her place in a community, and is no longer easily distinguishable from those around her. Although Helga is not literally anonymous, for people know her and she has a role, in these last chapters her sense of self becomes the thing that is completely unknown. The idea of being unnoticed by others is taken one step further, giving the impression that not only is Helga not thought of as an “other”, but she is no longer thought of as an individual. This proves to be a negative result of anonymity. For Helga Crane, in losing her “otherness”, she loses her true identity, her voice. For example, when Helga asks the other women in the town about the weariness of childbirth, her opinion is immediately dismissed for that of the group. One of the women says “Laws, chile, we’s all ti’ed. An’ Ah reckons we’s all gwine a be ti’ed till kingdom come,” (125) with an emphasis on the “we”. Helga’s individual, and critical, view of the situation is not important, it only matters what the group thinks or does. In some ways this is what Helga wanted, to be considered an equal part of a larger group. However, in becoming a part of the group, she no longer has her distinct voice. In this case, instead of allowing her to come to a greater understanding of herself, anonymity causes Helga to be stripped of everything that makes her unique. And yet, she’s found a “home”, she’s found a place where she is wholly accepted by others. Helga’s experience is in contrast with other characters, especially those from The Great Gatsby. It seems that for Helga, true anonymity causes her to lose true understanding rather than gain it. While a character like Nick or Jordan uses their blending into a crowd as a way to look objectively at something, Helga allows the anonymity to bring her into a passive existence. Instead of finding greater understanding, her understanding becomes thwarted by the subjective ideals of those surrounding her. She is racially anonymous, in that she no longer has to worry about looking different than everyone else or being judged by her race. And yet, her inner self has become completely unknown, even to Helga Crane herself.