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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Nella Larsen’s novel Passing is a brilliant portrayal depicting how light skinned African Americans were able to live their lives as white people if they so wished and the fallout sometimes associated with this racial passing. Although passing may seem beneficial to those who can blend into mainstream society, passing has several negative effects on one’s acceptance in the African American community. Such a negative effects can include the view of passing “as an instance of racial self-hatred or disloyalty” (CITE 2). In a sense, the one who passes can be considered a traitor to their natural race in that they have abandoned their in favor of a less stigmatized race. After all, race plays an important role in the formation of one’s identity
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.
This simple nine word quotation from Matshona Dhliwayo summarizes much of what Jane Elliot has spent her entire career trying to get people to understand. Watching the film, The Essential Blue Eyed, gave me an entirely new perspective on racism and in truth, showed how ignorant I had been. Jane Elliot is able to give study participants and viewers a completely new perspective on the social construction of race. According to the University of Minnesota, race refers to a category of people that share physical characteristics such as facial features and skin color (UMN 1).
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.
We know that she has insecurities because of the false accusations about Twyla kicking Maggie. In the weeks to follow Roberta and Twyla protest on opposite sides of the civil rights movement. It is here that we find out that Roberta might be the white character and Twyla may be the african american. This is significant because it shows the mysterious ways that the author is used to develop Robertas
Nella Larson’s novel Passing, tells the story of two African American women Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry who embark on a journey to “reconnect” with one another. Although, similar in appearance, these two women were very different in the way they determined race. For women like Irene and Clare who were physically able to “pass” as white women, despite having African American heritage the typical connotation that race was distinguished by the color of one’s skin did not apply to them. As a result, many women like Irene and Clare would cross the racial lines. The character Clare Kendry was the perfect example of “passing.”
The novel Passing of Nella Larsen held the historical and legal implications which can be seen through the judicial case of Homer Plessy who had one-eighth black and seven- eighths white. Plessy was forcibly jailed for sitting in the whites- only section on the railroad car in Louisiana. In 1896, at the Supreme Court, he argued that his black ancestry was insignificant and he was a white person by all definitions. The Supreme Court said that forcing Plessy to exclude from the whites section was against the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments about equal protection. However, Judge John Howard Ferguson affirmed that treating all people equally did not paralleled with eliminating social distinction based on colors.
In the essay, “A Genealogy of Modern Racism”, the author Dr. Cornel West discusses racism in depth, while conveying why whites feel this sense of superiority. We learn through his discussion that whites have been forced to treat black harshly due to the knowledge that was given to them about the aesthetics of beauty and civility. This knowledge that was bestowed on the whites in the modern West, taught them that they were superior to all races tat did not emulate the norms of whites. According to Dr. West the very idea that blacks were even human beings is a concept that was a “relatively new discovery of the modern West”, and that equality of beauty, culture, and intellect in blacks remains problematic and controversial in intellectual circles
Internalized Racism is the The Taye Diggs interview, Nella Larsen’s “Passing”, Sojourner Truth, and the racial scenarios video all display at least one of the five themes that are listed and all tie into each other in some aspect. Each New York during the 1920’s and the 1930’s better known as The Harlem Renaissance passing served as a In gateway for African American writers. Although these writers wrote about different issues their concepts were the same on certain topics such as: assimilation, colorism, passing, racism, and segregation. interview, scenario, novel, and biography. of these will be discussed and this paper will show the similarities of the themes in each main theme in the Taye Diggs interview; the topic of self-hate and colorism are being discussed.
Passing, a novel by Nella Larsen, addresses the issue of race by telling the story of two African American women - Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield - who represent different aspects of passing1. In the novel, passing refers to the process of crossing the color line, where a light skinned person who belongs to the black racial community enjoys white privilege2. However, people who pass struggle with double consciousness as they long to honor their race without necessarily being associated with it3. The novel is highly invested in ambiguity to show the fluidity and complexity of race, and how it paves the way for passing4. Passing illustrates the struggle African Americans face with their unchosen race and their attempt to control their identity
Irene's marriage with Brian Redfield is empty and unfulfilling. Brian resents Irene because she was the reason why he could not be where he wanted to be, which has led to discomfort and arguments throughout their marriage. Brian very much wanted to be in Brazil, but Irene insisted upon him
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.
In the short story, "Identities" it shows how racism causes people to treat culture and identity differently. "Identities" is about a white man who lives a high class life and lives in a wealthy neigbourhood. He is going through a midlife crisis so he decides to go for a drive in his Mercedes Benz. Leaving his part of the neigbourhood, "He meanders, instead, through the neat suburban labyrinth of cul-de-sacs, bays, and circles, losing and finding himself endlessly."
The story represents the culmination of Wright’s passionate desire to observe and reflect upon the racist world around him. Racism is so insidious that it prevents Richard from interacting normally, even with the whites who do treat him with a semblance of respect or with fellow blacks. For Richard, the true problem of racism is not simply that it exists, but that its roots in American culture are so deep it is doubtful whether these roots can be destroyed without destroying the culture itself. “It might have been that my tardiness in learning to sense white people as "white" people came from the fact that many of my relatives were "white"-looking people. My grandmother, who was white as any "white" person, had never looked "white" to me” (Wright 23).
A person’s identity is what defines them, it is their history and personality, it is what makes them the person they are, and yet sometimes it is sacrificed in order to attain something more. The giving up of a person’s race, when it is possible, is one of the clearest examples of this idea. When a certain race is oppressed, many would be willing to sacrifice their identity with the hopes of living free of oppression. The idea of sacrificing race and identity for a benefit is demonstrated in Charles Johnson’s novel Oxherding Tale and Nella Larsen’s novel Passing. In Oxherding Tale, the protagonist, Andrew, is born a black slave, but is half white and has a light skin tone.