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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 Larsens 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 Larsens protagonist in Quicksand illustrates the elements of both biological and sociological determinism in her inability to suppress her natural animal instinct to flee uncomfortable situations and to comfortably conform in either of her opposing communities Helga cannot suppress her desire to flee from uncomfortable situations in any city that she lives in In Naxos she convinces herself that she is leaving a place that has grown into a machine 4 Although the conforming nature of the institution contributes to Helgas desire to leave she is also stirred with an overpowering desire for action of some sort 4 Instead of staying in Naxos and fighting a battle against the institutes conservative attitudes Helga chooses to flee an unpleasant reality This exemplifies the fight or flight animal instinct that is said to control behavior in situations that become overwhelming Instead of fighting Helga time and time again chooses to leave what becomes unbearable to her Once the decision is made to leave Naxos Helga feels like a person who had been for months fighting the devil and then unexpectedly had turned around and agreed to do his bidding 5 Helga knows deep down that leaving Naxos is wrong but the instinct to flee is so strong that she is powerless to deny it In New York Helga is also consumed by the animal instinct of flight When Dr Anderson calls on her after a chance meeting at a nightclub Helga had no intention of running away but something some imp
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