Summary Of Passing By Nella Larsen

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Passing is a novel created by Nella Larsen to create a noticeable resemblance of the past and the present. Within the novel, one can see the distinct differences and similarities of being an African-American in America then and now. Nella Larsen intended to show readers how African-Americans had to, and in some cases still have to, deny their own nationality and ethnicity to appeal to those of whites in America. Passing is the act of portraying oneself as a different ethnicity and completely taking on a new life role. Nella Larsen mentions how the two characters in the story, Irene and Clare, were passing as Caucasian women even though they were African-American. Over the course of the book the two characters were good friends and even mistaken, …show more content…

Jack mentioned Clare’s skintone while describing his observation of her transformation from when they got married up until now while still not knowing for sure that his wife and daughter are black. “But I declare she’s gettin’ darker and darker. Tell her if she don’t look out, she’ll wake up one of these days and find out she’s turned into a nigger.”(Larsen, Page 29) Jack has jokingly called her a nig and nigger since he has noticed the difference. While Clare has pretended to be okay with the racial slurs abruptly leaving Jack’s mouth she stopped to ask a question and the question rang as, “My goodness, Jack! What difference would it make if, after all these years, you were to find out that I was one or two percent coloured?”(Larsen, Page 29) Jack’s reply was, “Oh, no, Nig. Nothing like that with me. I know you’re no nigger, so its all right. You can get as black as you please as far as I’m concerned, since I know you’re no nigger. I draw the line at that. No niggers in my family. Never have been and never will be.”(Larsen, Page 29) Jack feels that it is okay to joke with his wife Clare because he believes she’s white and is just getting darker from the sun. On the other hand, Clare and Irene does not feel that it is okay to use racial slurs however, they want to remain non-suspected for as long as possible. “She laughed and laughed and laughed. Tears ran down the side of her cheeks. Her sides ached. Her throat hurt. She laughed on and on and on, long after the others have subsided.”(Larsen, Page 29) Irene felt uneasy during the conversation due to her being a subject of Jack’s racism without him knowing so she began laughing out of control to cover the feelings. Jack is a racist and insensitive person who does not see that he is hurting his wife with his hatred towards blacks.

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