Spaces of Identity: Gender, Ethnicity, and Race in Salome of the Tenements (1923) and Quicksand (1928)

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Abstract

The 1920s marked a fervent time for artistic and literary expression in the United States. Besides the famous authors of the decade, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner, Anzia Yezierska and Nella Larsen, among other female writers, also managed to carve “a literary space” for their stories. Yezierska and Larsen depicted the struggles and tribulations of minority women during the fermenting 1920s, with a view to illustrating the impact of ethnicity and race on the individual female identity. Yezierska, a Jewish-American immigrant, and Larsen, a biracial American woman, share an interest in capturing the nuances of belonging to a particular community as an in-between subject. Therefore, this essay sets out to examine the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, and choice in shaping individual identities in public and private in-between spaces in Yezierska’s Salome of the Tenements (1923) and Larsen’s Quicksand (1928).

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