Nella Larsen Passing Analysis

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Passing Many things have been said, by critics and reviewers of all races, about the unusual, unsettling, unnecessary, and unconvincing ending of Nella Larsen’s book Passing. It is clear that Larsen needed an escape route from the troublesome position she had created for herself within the book, and having Clare Kendry fall off that seventeen story building to her death was the end route she boldly chose. While some readers will argue that Larsen’s indistinct ending is resolved by attributing Claire’s death to Irene Redfield, I find the text to be clearly suggesting that no one is responsible for Clare’s death, besides Clare herself. The hope that Irene pushed Clare is a longing-for-justice mentality from readers who see Irene as the one trying to do what is right within the story. Clare did not, throughout her life, need the help of anyone, especially Irene, to get what she wanted, and it was no different in the end: she jumped. From page one we read about the overpowering will and unmatched beauty of a little girl who is unaffected by the thought of risk. Passing, to Clare, is “such a frightfully easy thing to do” (37) and “It’s even worth the price” (44). Risk, to Clare, clearly meant…show more content…
Evidence, such as Irene’s hand that was “laid on Clare’s bare arm” (209) can be cited as evidence pointing to Irene as Clare’s killer, but Irene, could not have, and would not have pushed Clare, no matter how much she wanted to. On top of the evidence for Irene’s mental inability to have actually pushed Clare, Larsen describes the situation in the room moments before Clare’s death by saying that everyone was “staring at [Clare] in curiosity and wonder” (208). Certainly someone would have noticed Irene, who was in a frantic moment of “terror, tinged with ferocity” (209), push Claire out of the
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