||African American women represented in Harlem Renaissance literature evidence a need for examining political and racial agendas advanced by race "champions" like Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke for underlying destructive ideology. Reflecting the social climate, black women characters, specifically of the middle class, in Harlem Renaissance novels, cannot assert themselves as their black male characters do. Burdened by class and gender restrictions and denied a distinct identity within white, male-dominated society, black women represented in Harlem Renaissance fiction fail to define themselves, resulting in listlessness, self-abuse and both figurative and literal death. Three central texts of the period--- Quicksand, Passing, and The Blacker the Berry ---reveal the cause of this identity crisis as sexist race politics advocated by "racial uplift" theories. This thesis examines how Nella Larsen and Wallace Thurman present middle class black women against both racist, white America and their black male fictional counterparts.