Summary Of Passing By Nella Larsen

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In Passing by Nella Larsen, Irene Redfield, who is an African American descent takes advantage of her light skin color even though she doesn’t directly pass, which reveals the truth that the society is distinguishing people based on their races. After Irene witnesses a misfortune of a man lying in the street. she asks the cab driver to take her somewhere for tea since she’s not feeling well, which takes her to a hotel that serves only white people. Without indicating anything about her race, Irene successfully gets into the hotel where she meets Clare, who she has not met with for twelve years. As a result, when Clare is watching Irene for a long time and trying to recognize her, Irene connects it to her ethnic identity instead of identifying …show more content…

The poem portrays a class, where the narrator is considered by a white woman as “passing” without directly declaring as being black. As a response, the narrator asks the question: “Why presume “passing” is based on what I leave out and not what she fills in (Toi Derricotte)?” As an example, the narrator’s father looks white and every time he is asked about his race when he wants to get a driving licence, he keeps silent, like the quote suggests: “My father wouldn’t pass, but he might use silence to trap a devil (Toi Derricotte).”The fact is that he doesn’t directly say he’s black or white, but chooses to leave the space for people making assumptions based on his skin color. The author questions people who hate or blame others for passing because they are the ones who start to notice races and judge people based on that. The passage “what she fills in” shows that the word “passing” does not only mean people are trying to hide their true identities, but also that the society makes races matter. When the white woman sees the narrator, she notices the narrator’s light skin and connects it to white people automatically, which most people will do. This supposition comes from the past and invisibly puts another judgment on everyone. Humans see skin colors, describe people with the skin color, and judge them also based on skin colors, because skin colors are directly …show more content…

In the book written by Nella Larsen, Irene smartly uses people’s judgment towards her light skin to get more privileges for the white in the society. In the poem, Tori Derricotte writes from the perspective of an African decent to reveal that people are making assumptions of races based on skin colors. Both characters have the experience of being passing indirectly due to their physical identity, and they can take advantages of this experience. And they raise the question to readers: Should people who are considered to pass be blamed? Instead of answering this question, the poem posts another question: “Why presume “passing” is based on what I leave out and not what she fills in (Toi Derricotte)?” Passing in these two literatures is more complicated than what Clare does in the book Passing because neither of the two characters say they’re white, however, they can enjoy some privileges brought by their skin colors, which is also considered as passing by some people. It leads readers to think when skin colors that indicate races have become so important that people have to use them to judge a person. It seems normal when people are describing a person as “white”, “black”, or “Asian” which indicates “yellow”, but what is behind this is that races matter in the social life, and humans can’t deny the different social

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