This thesis investigates how the theme of migration and the ensuing quest for home and identity is presented in Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem (1928), Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928), and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).
Migration has been an essential component of African American life ever since the first African slaves were transported across the Atlantic. African American history is thus one of families and homes being torn apart, of dislocation, and of alienation. This has accordingly influenced the creation of African American culture. Just as the theme of migration pervades African American cultural expressions, so does the quest for selfhood and identity.
At the basis of my discussion is the so-called African American migration narrative, which is a systematisation of the theme of migration in African American cultural expressions. The three novels which are addressed in this thesis are by no means conventional migration narratives, nor are the novels particularly similar at first glance. Paradoxically, however, it is the seeming differences between these three novels which ultimately make them related.