Premium Essay

Prose of Helga Crane

In: English and Literature

Submitted By haileynelson1245
Words 1813
Pages 8
Hailey Nelson
Dr. Daniel
May 3, 2016 Internal Struggles are a product of External Pressures
The character Helga Crane consistently struggles to find her place in society as a progressive, bi-racial woman. Combinations of both internal and external struggles contribute to her inability to find contentment, however the external pressures prove to be her ultimate downfall. Helga’s external exposure to the sexist and segregated environments of Harlem, due to the hypocritical black community, and Denmark, due to the white community holding her up as a rarity rather than an equal, is not conducive to a state of overall internal mental health and wellbeing.
In both Denmark and Harlem, Helga has no internal struggle in the beginning. She is completely satisfied and happy with her surroundings, yet the attractiveness of both quickly fade due to the external pressures of race. While they address race in different ways, neither see her as a full equal. The environment around her, and her inability to fit in to the society around her only bring on her internal pressures. While Harlem seems like a perfect town, she is still forced to suppress half of her lineage due to racism. Upon her initial move to Harlem, Helga finds a place where she feels comfortable and happy. Despite her initial warning from Mrs. Hayes-Rose sating “I wouldn’t mention that my people are white, if I were you” (Larsen, 79). Helga remains open minded about the acceptance in her new environment. Even stating that in this area, she has “found herself.” She organized her life by doing things like “securing work” and “making acquaintances and other friends,” making it appear as though she has finally found a place to settle and truly define her identity (Larsen, 81). While this place provides everything Helga dreamed of, she still finds herself hiding the white half of her “never to be reopened,”...

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