Summary Of Nella Larsen's Passing

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I never really questioned my identity as an American until last year, when my English teacher asked me what my name was. She knew my name was Kerry Yang, just as it said on the attendance roster and all the assignments I had passed in, so what exactly did she mean? I was confused at first, but it quickly dawned on me that she was perfectly aware of what she was asking. While her question was not outright offensive, it was a microaggression that implied that the name “Kerry” did not fit me. When Irish immigrants fled the Great Potato Famine during the 1800’s in search of a better life in the United States, they brought the name “Kerry” with them. The Irish were initially discriminated against and hated along with many other immigrants for “stealing jobs” and in general, for being outsiders in society because of their differences. However, as future generations of immigrants adopted American customs and language, white immigrants like the Irish were harder to differentiate from the populous …show more content…

The book takes place in the 1920’s, when African-Americans were discriminated against and when segregation was legal. One of the main characters, Clare Kendry, is a light-skinned biracial woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. Claire recognizes the privileges of being an accepted as caucasian, and uses her physical appearance to bypass the repressive laws of the Jim Crow era and fully integrate herself into white American society. For example, Clare is able to go into restaurants and shops that are marked “Whites Only,” and is served and attended to with gusto. Furthermore, Claire marries an extremely racist white man who initially has no idea that she is actually biracial, and has a child with him. Despite the fact that she is actually of African-American descent, her “passing” is never questioned by outsiders because she looks, and therefore is,

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