Analysis Of Nella Larsen's Passing

839 Words 4 Pages
In Nella Larsen’s novel, “Passing” she tells the story of a two mixed race friends, Irene and Clare, one of which accepts her heritage while the other hides it by passing as a white woman. Throughout their conversation, they discuss their lives, but most importantly Clare’s descent to passing as a white woman in society. Their differences in lifestyle choices are clearly displayed, the lives they lead completely different than the other and by showing this comparison Larsen’s tries to show to cultural appropriation of women in the 1920’s. There are many factors as to why someone would make the choice to claim a better livelihood, and in this novel Larsen explores the differences that both women experience in their communities and the lives …show more content…
In Werner Sollors novel, “Neither Black nor White yet Both” he defines passing being used, “most frequently as if it were short for ‘passing for white’ in the sense of crossing over the color line in the U.S. from black to the white side”. Although, the benefits of passing may be incredibly appealing, such as wealth and privilege, Larsen attempts to refute this idea of portraying Clare as the complete opposite of Irene. Irene would sometimes use her skin tone to pass off as white, but she would not even consider the potential of living her whole life the way that Clare did. Towards the end of the excerpt Laren states, “Irene decided that she wouldn’t, after all, say anything to him about Clare Kendry. She had, she told herself, no inclination to speak of a person who held so low an opinion of her loyalty, or her discretion” (Larsen 122). Here Irene displays her displeasure for Clare’s choice, that she wouldn’t even speak about her as a result of the fact of how ashamed she of who she was. This disapproval of her friend, makes Irene see the truth behind covering your race and how that a life that Clare leads is not one worth …show more content…
I, myself, am not of mixed race, but I understand one could have the choice of becoming a completely different person separate from your familiarity in order to exceed in life. “She wished to find out about this hazardous business of ‘passing’, this breaking away from all that was familiar and friendly to take one’s chances in another environment, not entirely strange, perhaps, but certainly not entirely friendly” Irene questioned (Larsen 118). Though, I don’t agree with Clare’s decision, it does have it’s appeal as well as my interest. Willingly ignoring and not acknowledging one’s black identity in order to gain an advantage was a reality for many, not only during this time period, but it is one that has been around for quite some time. The fact that living in a world as a black was so difficult that you had to conceal yourself as something different to prosper, is a sad but awful truth that many would carry out during this

Related Documents