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Nella Larsen
Author of “Passing”,
“Quicksand”, and
“Sanctuary”
Family
Information
Born April 13, 1891 in Chicago, IL
Birth name: Nellie Walker
Father: Peter Walker, Mother: Mary
Hanson,...
Education/Careers
 At age 16, enrolled
at Fisk University’s
Normal School,
Nashville, TN
 After one year,
moved to Denma...
Literary Career
 Wrote short stories and poems, published her
work (Du Bois, White)
 1926 published several articles in ...
Novels and Awards
 First novel
“Quicksand” 1928
(autobiographical)
 Received Harmon
Foundation Bronze
Medal for literatu...
Plagiarism in “Sanctuary”
 Published in 1930
 Accused of
plagiarism off a story
published 8 years
earlier, “Mrs. Adis” b...
“Mrs. Adis” VS. “Sanctuary”
 "I'm in trouble." His
hands were
shaking a little.
"What you done?"
"I shot a man, Mrs.
Adis...
Quote
“Authors do not supply imaginations, they expect
their readers to have their own, and to use it”
― Nella Larsen
Critics thoughts
Many critics failed to recognized her story, “Sanctuary”
saying it was a “failed experiment” (Wall 133-34...
Themes and Irony
 Writes about the
struggles and strife
of being mixed
race
 Gender and
Sexuality Themes
 Uses ironic a...
Message and Plot
 a strong female
protagonist who
protects the murderer of
her own son out of
loyalty to her own peer
gro...
My Critical Analysis
Analysis Tools
Plot
Man comes to Mis
Poole seeking refuge
after he shot an
unknown man. Mis
Poole makes a moral
decision w...
Analysis Tools Cont’d
Message
Stick together through thick
and thin (racially)
Point of View
3rd person omniscient- “and
w...
Literary Elements
Foreshadowing
 “Daid?” Dunno, Mis’
Poole. Dunno.” White
man o’ niggah?”
Caint say,
Mis’Poole.”(111)
 “...
Figurative Language
 Simile: “his yellow eyes glowing
like pale flames” (112); his
tongue like a weighted dying
thing.”(1...
References
 Black History Now. BHS, 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 12 July 2014.
<http://blackhistorynow.com/nella-larsen/>.
 "Nell...
Eng102 Summer 2014 Nella Larsen
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Eng102 Summer 2014 Nella Larsen

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Nella Larsen quick biography and critical analysis of short story, "Sanctuary"

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Eng102 Summer 2014 Nella Larsen

  1. 1. Nella Larsen Author of “Passing”, “Quicksand”, and “Sanctuary”
  2. 2. Family Information Born April 13, 1891 in Chicago, IL Birth name: Nellie Walker Father: Peter Walker, Mother: Mary Hanson, Stepfather: Peter Larsen Younger sister years later Only “black” member of the family
  3. 3. Education/Careers  At age 16, enrolled at Fisk University’s Normal School, Nashville, TN  After one year, moved to Denmark for four years (attend University of Copenhagen)  Returned to US (NY) and became a nurse in 1915  1918-1919 Spanish flu pandemic, became a librarian  Same time married well-known physicist, Elmer Imes
  4. 4. Literary Career  Wrote short stories and poems, published her work (Du Bois, White)  1926 published several articles in The Brownies’ Book (African American magazine for children)  Went under the name of Allen Semi (Nella Imes reversed)  Captivated by Mixed Race dynamics, which became central themes in her novels
  5. 5. Novels and Awards  First novel “Quicksand” 1928 (autobiographical)  Received Harmon Foundation Bronze Medal for literature  Celebrated as one of the bright stars of Harlem Renaissance  Second novel “Passing” 1929  First black woman to receive Guggenheim Fellowship for literature
  6. 6. Plagiarism in “Sanctuary”  Published in 1930  Accused of plagiarism off a story published 8 years earlier, “Mrs. Adis” by Sheila Kaye-Smith.  Exonerated of accusations  Affected Larsen profoundly, fell off the literature scope  Same time, went through a divorce  1941 resumed her nursing career.  Died March 30, 1964 (Easter Sunday) in NY  White relatives denied knowing of her existence
  7. 7. “Mrs. Adis” VS. “Sanctuary”  "I'm in trouble." His hands were shaking a little. "What you done?" "I shot a man, Mrs. Adis." (Kaye-Smith)  "Ah's in trubble, Mis' Poole," the man explained, his voice shaking, his fingers twitching "W'at you done now?" "Shot a man, Mis' Poole." (Larsen, "Sanctuary")
  8. 8. Quote “Authors do not supply imaginations, they expect their readers to have their own, and to use it” ― Nella Larsen
  9. 9. Critics thoughts Many critics failed to recognized her story, “Sanctuary” saying it was a “failed experiment” (Wall 133-34) This is because of the negative impact it received due to the plagiarism accusation
  10. 10. Themes and Irony  Writes about the struggles and strife of being mixed race  Gender and Sexuality Themes  Uses ironic and sophisticated approach that is both fresh and unique.
  11. 11. Message and Plot  a strong female protagonist who protects the murderer of her own son out of loyalty to her own peer group  Nella Larsen amused by “if the Negro race would only stick together, we might get somewhere some day, and that what the white folks didn't know about us wouldn't hurt us.”  This is a strong, but rather melodramatic, plot
  12. 12. My Critical Analysis
  13. 13. Analysis Tools Plot Man comes to Mis Poole seeking refuge after he shot an unknown man. Mis Poole makes a moral decision whether to protect him or turn him in after finding out the unknown man he killed was her own son. Theme The Sacrifice- Mis Poole sacrifices herself(emotionally) to protect her own (racially) Motif “White man o’ niggah?”(111) “how white folks is white folks,” (111) “ef dey werent white folks an’ you a po’ niggah” (111) “Ef Lawd had gib you a whit e face ‘stead o’ dat dere black one” (112) “Bill Lowndes was a hard one too. And white.” (113)
  14. 14. Analysis Tools Cont’d Message Stick together through thick and thin (racially) Point of View 3rd person omniscient- “and why, the woman inquired caustically, should she run the dangerous risk of hiding him?” (111) “and into his frenzied brain came the thought that it would be better for him to get up and go out to them…” (113) Setting “On the Southern coast, between Merton and Shawboro” (110) in Mis Poole’s house, evening time (“Ebenin’, Mistah Lowndes.”(113))
  15. 15. Literary Elements Foreshadowing  “Daid?” Dunno, Mis’ Poole. Dunno.” White man o’ niggah?” Caint say, Mis’Poole.”(111)  “Ef de Lawd had gib you a white face ‘stead o’ dat dere black one, Ah shuah would turn you out.” (112) Irony  “You aint in no hurry, is you, Jim Hammer?” (110)  “With all his greatest strength he tried to get himself out of the bed. But he couldn’t.” (113)
  16. 16. Figurative Language  Simile: “his yellow eyes glowing like pale flames” (112); his tongue like a weighted dying thing.”(113)  Metaphor: “She was an old demon,” (112) “his eyes, blue and cold” (113)  Alliteration: “laid his soiled body and grimy garment between her snowy sheets,” (112); “his feet felt frozen, his hands clammy,” (113); “his hunters, however, didn’t hear him.”(114) Personification: “a lonely cottage that shrank timidly back” (110); “fear clutched so tightly at him” (112) Onomatopoeia: “But there was a light knock” (112); “Shucks! You done missed.” (113) Hyperbole: “youall done traipsed ‘way out hyah jes’ foh yo’ healf,” (113)
  17. 17. References  Black History Now. BHS, 26 Sept. 2011. Web. 12 July 2014. <http://blackhistorynow.com/nella-larsen/>.  "Nella Larsen Biography." Nella Larsen Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2014. <http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Larsen_Nella.html>.  "Nella Larsen Biography." Nella Larsen Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2014. <http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Larsen_Nella.html>.  "Nella Larsen." - New World Encyclopedia. N.p., 03 Apr. 2008. Web. 12 July 2014. <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Nella_Larsen>.  "Race, modernism, and plagiarism: the case of Nella Larsen's 'Sanctuary'.." The Free Library. 2006 African American Review 11 Jul. 2014 http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Race%2c+modernism%2c+and+plagiarism%3 a+the+case+of+Nella+Larsen's...-a0159696863  Sørensen, Bent. "“Small, but Exalted” –." N.p., n.d. Web. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hum.aau.dk%2F~i12bent%2FNellaLarsen>.

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