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. Both Clare and Irene are black: Clare looks the part while Irene looks like she’s a mix of white ethnicities rather than black. Irene’s ability to pass is the way she looks like other races and uses this to allow her to get to the top
In Nella Larsen’s novel Passing, the question of racial identity and racial pride is presented through several characters who struggle with their own identity and with the identities of others. We are presented with two opposing sides of the color line through Irene and Jack, who both stand firmly by their respective races. These two, who would otherwise be oblivious of the other, are brought together through their relationship with Clare, whose ability to pass upsets their view that race is stagnant and resolute. Although Irene and Jack condemn passing and act to reinforce the color line, they are nevertheless attracted to Clare and enamored by her charm and mystique. Something about her draws out similarities between them, and, though they
The author establishes her ethical appeal, by providing the reader with a vivid image of how her childhood was growing up colored. She let the readers see through her eyes by providing common grounds, with people of color. Growing up in an exclusively colored town, and only seen whites occasionally, gives the author no reason to see herself as colored,
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?”
Racism was always a big issue and still occurs today. The story “Passing” took place in the 1920’s during the Harlem Renaissance and it spoke about the term “Passing” which indicates that African American’s who looked lighted skin can go to public places without being discriminated. In “Passing” Nella Larsen demonstrates how racism causes jealousy, resentment, and dishonesty in relationships. The idea is conveyed through inner conflict, the conflict between the main characters and how the Harlem Renaissance period inflicts tension in relationships.
In Zora Neale Hurston’s short story, “John Redding Goes to Sea”, the main character John Redding struggles with standing out in his small hometown. This theme can also be seen several times throughout many other works in modern society. Two of which being John Green’s Paper Towns and Footloose. All of these stories focus on the ideas of a coming of age story – and how to find who you really are in the real world.
According to a bibliography of Larsen, Thadious M. Davis writes, "Larsen was the daughter of a Danish mother and, apparently, a West Indian father; she frequently alluded to her "mulatto" status" (1). A mulatto is a person who is mixed with a white and black ancestry. This explains the Passing demonstrating Clare as a woman who wants to and is able to pass as a white woman. It is possible that Larsen was either able to pass as a white woman, and wrote from experience or wanted to pass as a white woman, but could not, and wrote about it what it would be like if she could. It is also known that Larsen's father passed away when she was two, and her mother remarried. Davis states, "[Larsen] provided no other information about either her natural father or her mother and stepfather. Implicit in her reticence about her background is some discomfort in being the only black member of her immediate family" (1). There must have been issues with the marriage between the marriage between Larsen's mother and Larsen's stepfather. There must have been experiences that led Larsen to write about the life that Irene and Clare were living. The characters are tired and miserable. Irene is true to herself, but is still unhappy in her relationship, and Clare is untrue to herself which brought negativity to her marriage. Larsen was a mixed woman and she must have seen things through her mother's marriage which were not positive due to race. Larsen has felt alienated and lonely due to her being the only black member in her family and that must have also had an impact on her writing Clare's character. Larsen's idea of marriage was shaped from watching her mother and stepfather come together. Irene relationship with Brian represents the lack of communication, and being resentful.
It is often said that a new definition of a woman arose in the 1920s. But is that true? While most women experienced many newfound freedoms in the 1920s, black women could not explore these freedoms as easily as white women. In the novel Passing by Nella Larsen, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry grew up in Chicago together and are now both two wives and mothers in New York City during the 1920s, but there is a big difference between them. The novel’s title refers to light-skinned black women masquerading as white women for social benefits. Irene and Clare are both light enough to “pass”, but only Clare chooses to pass everyday. Irene passes in trivial situations like getting a cab, buying movie tickets, or getting a table at a restaurant, but
Stereotypical gender roles have existed as long as human culture has, becoming a natural part of all of our lives. Within each gender lies a variety of stereotypes and expectations. Most notably for men they are often depicted as tough and the family provider. Whereas women are often shown to be soft and vulnerable. Throughout the play A Streetcar Named Desire the author; Tennessee Williams illustrates the main characters, Stanley, Stella, Mitch and Blanche with these stereotypes. The play takes place in the 1950s in New Orleans containing a diverse population. However, is race discriminated against, those who go against classifed gender roles are often discriminated and have trouble finding their way in society. Although gender equality has
It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” This quotation means that friendship is can be good, and bad. Understanding one another through good, and bad, but allowing the other to get hurt causes greater problems. This quotation relates to the novel Passing because it shows the friendship between two childhood friends who rekindle their friendship as grown adults. The novel Passing, written by Nella Larsen talks about two African American woman with different experiences. The relationship between the two African American woman who share two different lifestyles, but similar in different ways. Throughout the novel it is seen that both characters have many similarities and differences. Irene is a colored woman who is married with two children. Clare is also a colored woman who is also married, but is passing for white by hiding her true
As a child, she recognized that her imitation of ‘White” afforded opportunities of mobility, education, acceptance and privilege. Her mother’s appearance as “Black” afforded opportunities of poverty, inferiority, and inequality. So, she fails to mention her mother’s identity and occupation to classroom peers and teacher. Sarah Jane wants cultural assimilation and white privilege.
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.
The individuals in this world are foolish to intuit hate for each other, for one way or another, we are all connected. The reason for this connectivity is the fault of passing or racial ambiguity. Passing is where an individual from one race is accepted into another based off of their appearance. Examples from: the film titled Little White Lie, a guest speaker named Rebecca Campbell, and the novel by J. California Cooper titled Family, explain this notion of passing and how it caused the world to be so connected.
“Everyday Use” is one of the most popular stories by Alice Walker. The issue that this story raises is very pertinent from ‘womanist’ perspective. The term, in its broader sense, designates a culture specific form of woman-referred policy and theory. ‘womanism’ may be defined as a strand within ‘black feminism’. As against womansim, feminist movement of the day was predominately white-centric. A womanist is one who expresses a certain amount of respect for woman and their talent and abilities beyond the boundaries of race and class. “Everyday Use” can be seen as a literary representation of this concept. “Everyday Use” is a story of a mother and her two daughters- Dee and Maggie.
The discrimination against the white race begins with a gradual distinct treatment of the African Americans who appear to have a trace of the white race. Helene proves to have a more formal dialect as she asks for “the bathroom” (23) and the black woman cannot understand until Helene finally refers to it as “the toilet” (23). The difference in word choice distinct Helene from the African Americans in the Bottom. The fact that Helene also has fairer skin than the African Americans gives the black woman a reason to believe Helene has a trace of white. Therefore, when Helene approaches the black woman on the train, “[the woman fastens her eyes]…on the thick velvet, the fair skin, [and] the high tone voice” (23), as if surprised and shocked to see an African American women appear in such a manner. The discrimination then gradually develops and it becomes unacceptable to associate with the white race. For example, the rumor of Sula “[sleeping] with white men” (112) was considered an “unforgiveable thing” (112) for which “there was no way back” (112). The rumor caused the African American community to think of her as “disgust[ing]” and “[filthy]” (113). The uncertainty of Sula sleeping with a white man holds enough for the