An Analysis Of Two Passing By Nella Larsen

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Biracial Identity and Finding Where One Fits Into Society The ‘’one-drop’’ rule is a rule from 20th century America during the Jim Crow era, targeted towards the biracial population. This rule states that if you have even just one black ancestor, you are considered black. Both Passing by Nella Larsen and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett take this concept and create a story about characters whose lives revolve around the ‘’one-drop’’ rule. Although Passing was written in the 1920s and set during that time, when racism was at its peak, Larsen explores the lives of biracial characters struggling with finding where they belong in society. In The Vanishing Half, Bennett uses Stella and Desiree, two light-skinned twins, to explore the themes of …show more content…

This is what Larsen and Bennett both did in their novels, in order to express how racial passing can lead to betrayal and lies. ‘’Why to get the things I want badly enough, I’d do anything, hurt anybody, throw anything away.’’(Larsen, 58) Larsen’s choice of diction in this quote by saying ‘’badly enough’’ and ‘’hurt anybody’’, gives the quote a very negative connotation. Her use of diction emphasizes at what lengths Clare would go to, in order to hide that she’s black. She would betray anyone and sacrifice the well-being of others, in order to ensure her own. This is similar to Bennett’s goal in The Vanishing Half, when it comes to Stella hiding her black ancestry. ‘’She couldn’t tell what unnerved her more, picturing a colored family moving in or imagining what might be done to stop them.’’(Bennett, 180) Similar to Larsen, Bennett’s choice of diction in this quote by using the word ‘’unnerved’’ when describing Stella’s feelings towards the black family moving into her neighborhood, helps to emphasize Stella’s newly developed racism towards this family. Now, Stella isn’t truly racist, seeing as she has black ancestry. Stella’s racism is merely a defense mechanism, in order to hide her true identity. Stella betrays the black family next door by being racist towards …show more content…

In The Vanishing Half, Bennett added dramatic irony through Kennedy’s relationship with Frantz. ‘’He was teasing. He thought she was kidding, and over time, it became a joke between them. If she was running late, he’d say that she was running on colored people time. If she snapped at him, he’d say ‘Easy there, sista.’ Soon it became a joke to her too.’’(Bennett, 308) The irony in this quote is that Frantz is making jokes about Kennedy being black, because he doesn’t believe her, but the reader knows all about her black ancestry. Bennett’s use of dramatic irony in this quote doesn’t only add humor, but instead, tension. This is similar to Clare’s husband’s racist joke. ‘’’Well, you see, it’s like this. When we were first married, she was white as - as - well as white as a lily. But I declare she’s gettin’ darker and darker. I tell her if she don’t look out, she’ll wake up one of these days and find she’s turned into a n--.’’’(Larsen, 42) In this quote, Larsen uses dramatic irony to add a little bit of humor to the novel. What is ironic is that Clare’s husband is joking around about how she’s gotten darker and calling her a slur as a nickname, not knowing that she’s actually black, and that he is telling this joke to three black women. This humor though, only increases the tension in the novel. Both novels utilize the relationships of the light-skinned

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