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Quicksand highlights the story of a half-black and half-white woman called Helga Crane. Throughout the story, Helga is trying to find something that would make her happy and satisfied despite the hatred she faces from her white stepfather. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is a fictional story of biracial young man. The man is referred to as the Ex-Colored Man and lives in the post-Reconstruction era in America. The man has to make choice between maintaining a black identity and living like a white man of middle class.
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This essay compares and contrasts the various aspects of Quicksand and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man depicts lives of African-Americans as divided into classes. Africans are not restricted to one class in Jim Crown America but exist in three different classes that are dynamic. The classes include the desperate class that loathes the whites, the domestic service class which works for whites, and the independent class which has no interactions with the whites. This implies that African-Americans in Jim Crown America, both north and south, were depicted as having the opportunity for self-progress and achievement since they transition from one class to the other (Johnson 20). Quicksand, on the other hand, depicts the lives of African-Americans in Europe as deplorable. They are not given a chance to progress effectively in the society despite their achievements in the educational and other fields. For instance, Helga Crane is a qualified teacher, but she does not live the life that is expected of a teacher because of the demeaning of African-Americans in Europe.
In The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, James Weldon utilizes a male character referred to as Ex-Colored Man to describe the lives of African-Americans awhile Nella Larsen in Quicksand, utilizes Helga Crane who is female as the main character in the depiction of the lives of African-Americans (Larsen and Davis 34). Gender plays an instrumental role in determining the manner in which other individuals perceive these characters. The male gender makes it easier for one to be perceived positively by other individuals. This is in line with the perception that men are the leaders of the house and have the ability to run their own lives. The female gender makes characters be perceived lowly by others due to the traditional assumption that women are inferior in society and should not be given an opportunity for self-determination. Both genders give the characters positive perception about themselves. They still want to achieve more in their lives without putting into consideration their gender.
These novels are only similar in the sense that they utilize characters born of a combination of black and white parents. The Ex-Colored Man was born of a white father and a black mother but wanted to establish more identity with the blacks due to his love for his mother who had taken proper care of her (Bennett 110). Helga was also born of a combination of black and white parents before they separated; she started suffering under the hatred of a white father who had married her mother after she separated with her real father.
In conclusion, Quicksand highlights the story of an African-American woman called Helga Crane. Throughout the story, Helga is looking for the way to become happy in spite of her stepfather who hates her. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man depicts the story of biracial young man who is known as the Ex-Colored Man .The novels differ as they utilize main characters of different gender and have different depictions about the lives of African Americans. They are only related in the sense that they utilize African-American characters.