What I’ve really come to take away from Quicksand, besides just how deeply our society has ingrained inescapable roles for people, is how infectious our society really is. Over the course of the story a lot of language is used to suggest that the structures we live within are like a disease. It’s a disease that you can catch and spread amongst the people you surround yourself with. Honestly, the book made me sad as hell. It was so sad watching Helga try to break from the roles the world was telling her to play and failing every time. It’s almost like she was getting more and more “sick” as the book went on, in the end resulting in her becoming fully infected.
For example, when Helga is persuaded to go to the church, the whole “infection” metaphor becomes really apparent. The narrator says, “And as Helga watched and listened, gradually a curious influence penetrated her…she felt herself possessed by the same madness” (113).
At this point, I made an immediate connection to The Narrative of Frederick Douglass. Douglass spends a lot of time explaining how the slave masters were infected by the institution of slavery and even goes on to describe them as being “possessed” by demons. This idea of possession really interests me. In both texts, the authors are suggesting that society and the structures we are in eventually turn us “sick”. We have all these corrupt institutions around us and generation by generation is being infected. After Helga becomes possessed by these exact structures, she goes on to live a jailed house-wife life.
Honestly, it’s just depressing. Larsen doesn’t give much of a redemption quality to society. It’s almost like once you catch it, you can’t be cured from it. I’m wondering what you guys think. Is society/structures
within society that bad? Do we live in a world that is so infectious that once you catch the disease, you can’t ever get rid of its influence?
– Christian R.