Nella Larsen’s Passing is a novella about the past experiences of African American women ‘passing’ as whites for equal opportunities. Larsen presents the day to day issues African American women face during their ‘passing’ journey through her characters of Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry. During the reading process, we progressively realize ‘passing’ in Harlem, New York during the 1920’s becomes difficult for both of these women physically and mentally as different kinds of challenges approach ahead. Although Larsen decides the novella to be told in a third person narrative, different thoughts and messages of Irene and Clare communicate broken ideas for the reader, causing the interpretation of the novella to vary from different perspectives. …show more content…
While reading one of Clare’s letters, the narrator doesn’t properly communicate the actual description of the message as it sends two different interpretations to the readers. Not to mention that the phone calls between Clare and Irene also fails to communicate both viewpoints as the narrator only mentions one side of the direct discourse. On that note, the direct and indirect discourses of their face to face conversation demonstrates two different conative discussions, giving us a better insight of their true characteristics. As the end approaches with a mysterious tragedy, we are to question Irene as her dialogue and interpretation ineffectively matches the reader’s perspective, due to her outlook bordering between accidental and intentional motives. With the characters and narrator using different methods of communication, such as the letters, phone calls, and in person conversations, it leads us to question their integrity and whether the discourse accurately represents the climactic fallouts of the
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Ann Landers once said, “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” This quotation means that friendship is can be good, and bad.
During Nella Larsen’s lifetime, the African American community in Harlem, NY was experiencing the Harlem Renaissance. They were questioning and pushing the boundaries of commonly accepted views of African Americans. Larsen was bold enough to talk about passing, or when black people pass as white, and the fact that sexual attraction can exist between two women. In her novel Passing, Larsen takes a strong stance on the act of passing and the sexuality of women.
This passage from DuBois is relevant to Nella Larsen’s Passing in many ways. Irene experienced the same double consciousness as DuBois describes, yet she experienced it differently for she could “pass” as a different race. As a women of color “passing” she was well aware of what white people looked for to define a person’s race, “White people were so stupid about such things….. finger-nails, palms of hands, shapes of ears, teeth…” (16) She talked about being mistaken for other races such as Italian or Mexican, I wonder what kind of treatment people of those races got from white, 1920’s
1920’s society offered a prominent way for blacks that look white to exploit its barrier and pass in society. Visible within Nella Larsen’s Passing, access to the regular world exists only for those who fit the criteria of white skin and white husband. Through internal conflict and characterization, the novella reveals deception slowly devours the deceitful. In Passing, Clare and Irene both deceive people. They both engage in deceit by having the ability to pass when they are not of the proper race to do so.
Living an inauthentic life can be dangerous, and while it can be done to gain benefits, as African American women passing as white to gain benefits, it often has dire consequences. Nella Larsen's exploration of passing in Passing shows that living an inauthentic life can come with great risks, and can lead to a human tragedy. The consequences of living an inauthentic life are not only felt by Irene and Clare, but by those around them as well. As Irene and Clare are passing as white, they are causing confusion and chaos in the lives of their families and friends. Irene’s husband, Brian, is unaware of her racial identity and is perplexed by her behavior.
Nella Larsen, one of the major woman voices of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, when many African American writers were attempting to establish African–American identity during the post-World War I period. Figures as diverse as W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, A. Philip Randolph and Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston along with Nella Larsen sought to define a new African American identity that had appeared on the scene. These men and women of intellect asserted that African Americans belonged to a unique race of human beings whose ancestry imparted a distinctive and invaluable racial identify and culture. This paper aims at showcasing the exploration of African American ‘biracial’ / ‘mulatto’ women in White Anglo Saxon White Protestant America and their quest for an identity with reference to Nella Larsen’s Quicksand.
Nella Larson’s novel Passing, tells the story of two African American women Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry who embark on a journey to “reconnect” with one another. Although, similar in appearance, these two women were very different in the way they determined race. For women like Irene and Clare who were physically able to “pass” as white women, despite having African American heritage the typical connotation that race was distinguished by the color of one’s skin did not apply to them. As a result, many women like Irene and Clare would cross the racial lines. The character Clare Kendry was the perfect example of “passing.”
Zora Neale Hurston’s “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” highlights the experiences of a woman of color in the early 1920s who is stripped of her personal pride of her own identity by a racist society. Despite her odds, Hurston chooses to mentally combat the racist ideals and beliefs of the time that were being pressured upon her by society. This led her to regain her own personal power in her pride for her identity as a woman of color. Hurston grew up with pride in her identity as a black girl, in a small colored town where it had never been challenged before. Then, as she is introduced to a mixed city for her education, her strength in her cultural identity is challenged by racist beliefs.
Often times, literary works can easily distinguish between a good character or an evil character. Other times, a character can be very complex, which makes it difficult to characterize the character as good or evil. This complex character complex is known as Moral Ambiguity. In other words, readers are discouraged from identifying a character as purely good or evil. One particular character that can be views as morally ambiguous is a woman named Edna Pontellier.
The Pursue of Security In Passing, Larsen explores the options African American women had and the choices they made in 1920s. The novel’s plot delves into the relationship between Irene Redfield, the protagonist, and Clare Kendry, who is, arguably, the novel’s antagonist. Larsen uses race to highlight her characters’ need to pursue social security through marriage and friendship. Larson identifies Irene as a mother, a Black woman, a wife, but one striking identification remains exceptional: “American” (367). Larsen emphasizes Irene’s need for a permanent residency that she can identify with.
It is often said that a new definition of a woman arose in the 1920s. But is that true? While most women experienced many newfound freedoms in the 1920s, black women could not explore these freedoms as easily as white women. In the novel Passing by Nella Larsen, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry grew up in Chicago together and are now both two wives and mothers in New York City during the 1920s, but there is a big difference between them. The novel’s title refers to light-skinned black women masquerading as white women for social benefits.
Black women are treated less than because of their ascribed traits, their gender and race, and are often dehumanized and belittled throughout the movie. They are treated like slaves and are seen as easily disposable. There are several moments throughout the film that show the racial, gender, and class inequalities. These moments also show exploitation and opportunity hoarding. The Help also explains historical context of the inequality that occurred during that time period.
Irene's marriage with Brian Redfield is empty and unfulfilling. Brian resents Irene because she was the reason why he could not be where he wanted to be, which has led to discomfort and arguments throughout their marriage. Brian very much wanted to be in Brazil, but Irene insisted upon him
A constant comparison and contrast between Maggie and Dee is prominent structural feature of the narrative. This structural strategy helps in conceptualizing the plurality of female experience within the same milieu. This strategy encapsulates another dimension of womanism, viz. , womanism refuses to treat black woman as a homogeneous monolith. Unlike feminist position, womanism is sensitive to change with time.
She was influenced by the ideologies of women’s liberation movements and she speaks as a Black woman in a world that still undervalues the voice of the Black woman. Her novels especially lend themselves to feminist readings because of the ways in which they challenge the cultural norms of gender, slavery, race, and class. In addition to that, Morrison novels discuss the experiences of the oppressed black minorities in isolated communities. The dominant white culture disables the development of healthy African-American women self image and also she pictures the harsh conditions of black women, without separating them from the oppressed situation of the whole minority. In fact, slavery is an ancient and heinous institution which had adverse effects on the sufferers at both the physical as well as psychological levels.