Quicksand by Nella Larsen and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Johnson have dark background information, but they both end on a positive note. Nella Larsen in her novel used details about her main character's personal feelings about being alone to create a dark aura of sorts around her. James Johnson implemented the narrator in a crime to create that dark mood. Also, both characters use the setting of each novel as an escape from their troubles. Both Quicksand and The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man share the theme of a homecoming to rid them of the evils they have eating at them.
In Nella Larsen's Quicksand, the main character Helga Crane, was given a background that was full of loneliness and pain. In the novel, the narrator says said, "Leaning against the railing, Helga stares into the approaching night, glad to be at last alone, free of that great superfluity of human beings ". That line describes how Helga was used to being alone and actually enjoyed it. In James Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, the main character was introduced during a time of anxiousness and dread. In that novel, the narrator said, "This morbid state of mine, together with seasickness, kept me miserable for three or four days. " That statement shows how terrible the narrator feels at that point in time and in life. Both characters were given dark backgrounds to set the theme of a homecoming making them feel better. .
Next up, the setting of both novels creates a great ambience for the novels and works great with the theme. The setting of Quicksand helped the reader understand the current plan for Helga to start a new and escape her darkness. The setting of being on a ship leaving New York for Denmark with a bunch of fellow travelers and people she knew. That help set the road for Helga to start developing feelings for those people and take a small step out of the darkness. In The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, the setting of beautiful France offered an escape for the narrator while he was there.