Helga Crane is a mixed-race teacher who struggles to find her identity in a world of racial crisis in the 1920s America. She is the daughter of a Danish mother, who died when she was an adolescent, and a West Indian father, who is absent. While teaching in Naxos, Helga suffers from social angst as she is discontented with the social uplift philosophy delivered by a white preacher. She moves to Harlem where she becomes the secretary to a refined, but often hypocritical, black middle-class woman who is obsessed with the “race problem”, which urges her into another escape as she visits her aunt in Copenhagen. Driven by the search for racial identity Helga rejects intimate relationships with every man she encounters at each destination. She is looking for more than how to integrate her mixed ancestry. Quicksand explores both cross-cultural and interracial themes and throughout the book Helga expresses complex feelings about what she and her friends consider genetic differences between races.