Plagiarism In Nella Larsen's Sanctuary

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Plagiarism is a huge ordeal; whether it be a college research paper or an author writing a story that seems vaguely like another well-known story. What is plagiarism? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary plagiarism is: to steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one's own, to use another's production without crediting the source, to commit literary theft, or to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. If someone plagiarizes in college, that person can end up failing the class and possibly be kicked out of school. If an author “plagiarizes” another author’s piece of work, what happens then? This is the case for Nella Larsen’s “Sanctuary”. It has been said that she copied this story from…show more content…
Nella Larsen’s “Sanctuary” was not published until 1930. Larsen’s story is too similar to Smith’s to be a coincidence. The description of the characters are almost the exact same. Even the commentary in the two stories are alike. Here is piece from “Mrs. Adis”: “’Well, you can think of it in here,’ she said dryly, opening a door which led from the kitchen into the small lean-to of the cottage. ‘They '11 never guess you 're there, specially if I tell them I ain't seen you to-night (Kaye-Smith, 1922).’” A similar piece is taken from “Sanctuary”: “Crossing the kitchen, she opened a door leading into a small bedroom, saying, ‘Git yo'se'f in dat dere feather bald an'Ah'm a-gwine put de clo's on de top. Don' reckon dey'll fin' you ef dey does look foh you in mah house. An Ah don' spec' dey'll go foh to do cat (Larsen, 1930).’” A brief summary of each one goes like this: In both stories, a man is running from the “police” because he shot a man and takes shelter in his best friend’s mother’s house. He hides in a room until the “police” leave. When the law enforcement comes, the man then finds out he shot his best friend, whose house he is in right now. When the police leave, his friend’s mother lets him leave without turning him into the…show more content…
Adis,” She states that even though the two stories share a similar outline, their “distinctiveness overshadows their similarities.” Like Hoeller and Cohen, Larson believes Nella Larsen was not trying to plagiarize someone’s work. She was only trying to express what she felt was going on during that time through a story that she may or may not have heard or

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