Literary Analysis: Passing By Nella Larsen

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What does the practice—“passing”—mean? Being historically discriminated in United Stated, African Americans who have light skin often pretend to be white in order to take advantages and obtain opportunities to survive in the white society. Therefore, this practice is known as “passing” or “passing for white.” To completely pass to be whites, individuals have to leave their hometowns and family because they need to ensure other people who never know their true racial origins. Even though some African Americans have successfully passed to white, they feel the anguish caused by the six conditions of slavery when living in the white community. In the book Passing by Nella Larsen, which mainly involves two characters—Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry, illustrates the story about the passing of African Americans. Clare Kendry, who spends many years to pass as a white, has married to business white man because she wants to pursue the comfortable life, and escapes from the superior status of her race. When Clare thinks that she can have better life quality by passing to a white, she realizes that she is living alone from her family. Moreover, Clare is afraid of that her husband will discover the truth of her racial identity one day. Clare’s life is full of conflict and pressure while shifting the racial boundary. On the contrary, even though Irene Redfield has passed as a white, she has married to a passing man instead of a white, and remains the

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