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Helga is a 22 year old mulatto, engaged to James Vayle, who works at a Negro school in Naxos. She hates her job since the school is not individualistic and degrades Negroes.
Helga leaves Naxos since she feels like a failure and out of place. She ends her engangement and heads to Chicago to meet her Uncle Peter. When she arrives to his house, she encounters his wife, who causes Helga to depart angrily.
Helga leaves Chicago for Harlem and finally "finds herself." She lives with Anne Grey, a Negro, and becomes happy. Not long after, she becomes irked by racial issues. She receives $5,ooo to go to Copenhagen to see her white family, which she deeply misses.
Helga arrives to Denmark, where she is genially greeted by her Aunt and Uncle. She feels accepted and beautiful. Fru Dahl and Herr take her to a jeweler for earrings. While going there, she feels exotic.
Life is good for Helga, but people still treat her like a different species. She is less happy than she was the first year, and she refuses Axel Olson's marriage due to race as an issue; the portrait also angers her. She leaves for America.
Helga goes to a church and cries. The Reverend walks her and she finds God. She marries him and has many children. She feels ill later on, and hates her husband and God. She was rejected by Anderson and is now pregnant with her 5th child. She faces oppression and can no longer search for her identity.
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