Summary Of Nella Larsen's Passing

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Nella Larsen brings in the discussion of race and how different individuals who identify as “black” or “white” view themselves. It talks about both the absence and presence of self through the use of the characters, Irene and Clare. In Passing, it shows how Irene identify herself as “black” but passes off as “white” in comparison to Clare who identifies herself as “white” and hence passes off as “white”. However, some critics argue that Irene portrays a sense of self through Irene’s sense of identity of being a “mother” and “black” through her community. Other critics put forth the notion that Clare portrays an absence of self through her final actions when she jumped off the window and disappears from the scene after her husband calls her a “nigger”. I will be taking a postmodern approach to the text and supplementing it with modernism and psychoanalytic theories before stating my final stance that postmodernism may be the most appropriate approach. This approach ensures that different perspectives are present in my analysis and ensures that it is not one-sided. The question that I hope to focus my argument on is “Does the postmodernist approach better emerge the idea of self from racism?” Rottenberg, Catherine. "Passing : Race, Identification, and Desire." Criticism, vol. 45, no. 4, 2004, pp. 435-452. Rottenberg puts forth her interpretation that race is a performative reiteration, as identification with a particular skin colour effects subjects to act according to the

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