Passing By Nella Larsen Summary

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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…show more content…
In the book Passing, Encounter, chapter three, when Clare, Irene and Gertrude continue to have their conversation, a white man, John Bellew comes up, and blends in the conversation. John has greeting to Clare, and says that “Hello.Nig.” When they hear that, Irene and Gertrude think that Clare’s husband knows her truth of the ethnic identity. Larsen mentions that “it was hard to believe that even Clare Kendry would permit this ridiculing of her race by an outsider, though he chanced to be her husband.” But then, Irene notices that Clare’s husband does not know anything about her racial identity. Besides, when Clare’s husband keeps making fun of the black race, Clare does not get attitude towards her husband even though she is a black. Larsen refers that “he roared with laughter. Clare’s ringing bell-like laugh joined his.” In this case, Clare already accustoms to this desperate situation. Clare gets used to this circumstance because she wants to have higher social status, but she is not doing for food. Even if Clare is suffering the desperation, it is different because it presents in another form. The desperation is not just about getting enough or death, but it is about social status. To maintain her social status, she does not have any reaction or emotion even if her husband despises her
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