Quicksand and Passing Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is it that disturbs Helga about Naxos' methods of educating children? Are her feelings justified?

They are trying to replace the black children's culture with the ways of white people. They do not encourage the black children to be proud of themselves as they are, but instead try to fix them by structuring their world, criticizing them and encouraging them to assimilate.

2. Who is Uncle Peter? Why does Helga expect help from him?

Peter is the brother of Helga's white mother who lives in Chicago. Her mother was his favorite sister. He has money, and she knows he always liked her when she was young. She needs money to re-settle, now that she has left her job in Naxos. The white people in her family are antagonistic toward her, fearing or hating her. But Peter felt Helga would never amount to anything and she feels, by needing money from him, his convictions about her would be strengthened.

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