Nella Larsen Passing

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In Passing by Nella Larsen, the mentioning of eyes gives the reader an indication of something significant in the text. Passing is told from the perspective of Irene Redfield, an observant mother and wife that accepts her heritage. When Irene re-encounters her old childhood friend, Clare Kendry, at the Drayton Hotel Clare reveals her new life of luxury as a result of passing into the white world. Clare is described as dangerous and mysterious and this re-encounter can bring nothing but trouble into Irene’s perfect life. Throughout the text, Irene regards Clare as something ‘otherworldly’ and even though Irene is described as observant Clare is the only person that Irene is unable to see through. As their worlds begin to collide, Irene always …show more content…

After the realization that the beautiful stranger is her childhood friend, Clare Kendry, Irene discusses all of the events that have occurred without Clare and talk about her passing in general. However, at the end of their mention, Irene continues to focus on Clare’s eyes. Irene says, “And the eyes were magnificent! dark, sometimes black, always luminous, and set in long, black lashes. Arresting eyes, slow and mesmeric, and with, for all their warmth something withdrawn and secret about them” (Larsen, 29). Clare’s eyes always hold an aura of mystery and Irene continues to re-instill the qualities of Clare’s dark eyes. Then, Irene continues to set Clare apart as something ethereal when looking in her eyes at the tea party with Gertrude and Jack. Irene says, “... she turned an oblique look on Clare and encountered her peculiar eyes fixed on her with an expression so dark and deep and unfathomable that she had for a short moment the sensation of gazing into the eyes of some creature utterly strange and apart” (Larsen, 40). Throughout the text, Larsen continues to differentiate Clare from all the others characters in the book because of her eyes. In this quote, Clare is described as an “utterly strange creature” and her eyes are described as “unfathomable and dark.” This relates the idea of Clare’s black eyes showing her impenetrable facade. Her black eyes show her Clare’s true nature and give

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