Summary Of Langston Hughes's Passing

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Journal Ten Both the novella Passing by Nella Larsen and the section of Langston Hughes’ work The Ways of White Folks entitled Dear Ma deal with the subject of African American people who are “passing” as white. The term passing means to be accepted for what one is not, and in this case refers to an African American being accepted as white. Both stories take place decades ago, 1929 in Passing and 1934 in Dear Ma. This was a period of time when racism, ignorance, and bigotry were found everywhere, and controlled they way society worked. Despite not being from this time period, nor being African American, I’m going to give my thoughts on how the passing of oneself as a different race may impact one’s personal relationships. To do this, I’m going …show more content…
She is introduced early on, and we quickly learn that she is an African American who has ‘passed over’ and is currently married to a white man and has a daughter. During a sitting for tea with main character Irene, we learn that Clare is content with her life. Despite her acceptance of life a white woman, Clare tells Irene that she wishes she could see those from her past, and is eager to meet with Irene. Because the novella is from Irene’s point of view, we don’t know Clare’s actual thoughts in feelings on the matter, though we can assume some things by the way Irene describes Clare’s actions. Irene has trouble understanding why Clare is so adamant on seeing her again, and I wonder if this is due to a longing for connection to a past she must hide from those who are currently in her life, including her husband and child. Because Irene is also light skinned, Clare can pass her off as a friend from the past without admitting to her actual race and background. From what I can see so far, Clare does not regret her decision to pass over, but does have a certain wistfulness for the African American community see grew up in and currently has cut ties from. Perhaps this shows how much strain it can put not only on a person’s relationships, but also themselves to pass as a different …show more content…
Due to this letter being in the passing person’s own eyes, we can get a better understanding of how Jack feels than we can of Clare. It becomes obvious throughout the letter that Jack does not regret his decision to pass over, just as it seems Clare does not. This is interesting, because we also learn how much strain it puts on his relationship with his family, none of whom are light skinned enough to pass. Jack describes how his brother is resentful of his passing, and how he always has been. Because Jack is confused over this, we can see how different his life is than that of his siblings. Jack has possibly never had to deal first hand with being seen as inferior as his siblings and mother have, and has therefore lived a different life then them. This difference in life experience can perhaps explain Jack’s confusion over his brother’s feelings as well as the easiness in which he accepts the different life despite the rift it causes between him and his

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