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. Irene and Clare are both light enough to “pass”, but only Clare chooses to pass everyday. Irene passes in trivial situations like getting a cab, buying movie tickets, or getting a table at a restaurant, but …show more content…
One subject they tend to talk about often is motherhood. Larsen continues her use of character foiling through the contrasting of Irene’s and Clare’s feelings about motherhood to emphasize how their contrasting situations influence their feelings. Clare does not enjoy being a mother. She believes that it is too much pressure, especially because she doesn’t want her daughter’s skin to reveal that she has a black parent. She says, “I nearly died of terror the whole nine months before Margery was born for fear she might be dark. Thank goodness, she turned out alright. But I’ll never risk it again. Never! The strain is simply too - too hellish,” (36). Larsen uses words provoking anxiety and horror to give the reader insight into Clare’s mind when she thinks about pregnancy and motherhood. She uses the words ‘died’, ‘terror’, ‘fear’, ‘dark’, ‘risk’, ‘strain’, and ‘hellish’; which are all words associated with danger or negativity. In contrast, Irene enjoys being a mother and always thinks about her children when making decisions. She feels motherhood is a strong life-long responsibility that can definitely be stressful, but is worth it in the long run. She feels such an obligation to her children that she puts their needs before hers. “Nor did she admit that all other plans, all other ways, she regarded as menaces, more or less …show more content…
She uses the foil to explore how Irene and Clare experience womanhood differently and connects it to the expectations of women in the 1920s. She mainly uses motherhood and marriage to exhibit these differences in their lives based on off race. She uses motherhood to show how Clare hates being a mother because of her fear of her husband finding out she’s black through her daughter’s skin tone. Irene appreciates being a mother even though she sacrifices her own desires for it; she understands the huge responsibility that comes with being a mother and embraces it. Marriage is used to portray Clare’s fear of her husband, and it shows Irene’s insecurity in her marriage when she suspects Clare and Brian are having an affair, yet her faith in her husband when she blames herself. Instead of internalizing her fear of her husband, Clare perseus pursues Brian. This affair relates to the open sexuality of the 1920s. Clare wasn’t getting the attention she wanted from her husband, therefore, she was determined to find it somewhere else, a revolutionary, and very 20s, attitude. Clare was intrigued by Harlem and all the parties she went to with the Redfields. She wanted to be a flapper and explore things, so she explored her boundaries with Brian. This connects to the 1920s woman through the duties that women are
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The barrier between her and the neighbours after her husband’s death forced her to become reserved and quiet. Her and her son only went into town if they had to. They preferred to stay close to the garden where they felt safe. The death of the husband is the cause of the mothers’ complete change in character. The death let the audience connect with her on a deeper level to understand her pain and suffering.
Because he cannot pass and therefore faces the typical struggles of a black person, he perceives the necessity for doing so. For him, passing is about surviving and gaining a better lifestyle. Yet still Irene questions the concept of passing and is genuinely surprised that she knows so many people that pass in everyday society, such as Clare and Gertrude, and she does not understand the necessity for them to do so, which is made even more ironic by the fact that Irene too passes on occasion. Although she claims that she has never “gone native in [her] life”, passing for Irene is simply a means of convenience, which is completely unlike why the other two women pass (Larsen
Opening her piece with an anecdote, supported by her reflective tone, Smith captivates the audience towards her own experiences of a mother. Her invigorating story of her three toddlers “squabbling” and “constant demands” obliges the reader to be more interested in what she is saying as it is a relatable situation for most mothers. Furthering upon this, Smith shifts to an informative tone as she addresses the epidemic of obese children due to “spending over 70% of their days being sedentary”, confronting the parents with shocking statistics, the parents of young children are aroused by fear and is urged to reconsider their responsibility as a parent. Moreover, Smith confidently provokes the readers by asking them rhetorical questions and then answering them, proving that the answer is obvious, just like the problem. Hence, Smith’s use of a visual representation of two children who are projected as disconnected and slightly inhumane, digs into the emotions of the audience, creating an impersonal and sinister mood.
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.
To illustrate this theme the author describes that: “She had driven through a forest fire, gone boating in a hurricane, swum across riptides”(532). In other words, she is not someone who runs from change or opposition in life and is not afraid of a simple bucket of blood that contains a swamp rat in it. It seems that this is a type of woman that conveys a different model and that is something that can definitely be learned from. It is very important to move outside of one’s comfort zone to be able to live a full and exciting life. As one can see, Waugh examines the way that a mother does the untraditional approach to life and ends up having an impact on those around
Although many historians believe that there was a negative impact of industrialization and technological changes on American society; however, the positive impact of the two factors overpowers the negative impact on American society economically and socially between the time period of 1900 to 1930. Economically, there were positive impacts on American society due to the industrialization and technological changes that the nation was undergoing. In Theodore Roosevelt’s “The New Nationalism” 1910, he points out that no man in American society can be a good citizen because of the wage he makes that isn't ample enough to cover the bare cost of living, and the hours of labor are too long which doesn't give him energy and time to bear his share
For example, when Lou Ann is pregnant and riding on the bus, she explains how relaxing it is to be pregnant because men do not, “rub up against her when the bus made sudden stops and turns.” Lou Ann feels as though the only way she can be left alone without being inappropriately touched is when she is visibly pregnant. Just because Lou Ann is a woman, she is leaned against and rubbed on by men. In addition, Taylor describes herself as, “Lucky that way,” because she does not have a father. Taylor hears so many stories and witnesses so many examples of poor treatment of women that she considers herself lucky to not have a father, a juxtaposition to the depression many children feel growing up without a parent.
The Great Gatsby What do you know about “being in the shoes” of women in the 1920s ? The 19th amendment gained women the right to vote. With more freedom came fashion/style with flappers, skirts, hats, hairstyles and many more styles or fashion that started a movement. Following the roles of women after the war the result were sexually liberated.
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.
The 1920s is a time of technological, economical, and social exploration. Myrtle, Daisy, and Jordan display the full image of what it is like to be a women in New York during the 1920s. They each have a personal struggle with society and the fight between what they want and what is expected of them. Each of these women wants to experience the glamor of the 1920s but has to maintain some of the traditional elegance of a woman. If the neglect to do so, they are treated harshly by society.
This shows what she had to endure to try to keep her baby healthy. It appeals to the loving protective side of the reader. It makes them think about what the baby must be going through beacuase of their economic situation. Rhetorical questions are used to directly engage the
Even while in physical pain herself and needing tending, Adele focuses on children, believing that to be a perfect mother one must be willing to sacrifice anything for her children. Adele tries to get Edna to see her point of view and adopt it. Again, Adele’s unsolicited advice shows how passionately she feels about the subject, which is not her own idea at all but simply society’s rule imposed on
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.