Passing By Nella Larsen Analysis

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White America Essay Project 1 3/20/13 Kristin Velladao English 225 Dr. Jason Crum White America In the novel Passing, Nella Larsen takes the reader on a journey through the social and legal struggle for colored women to fit into white society. She tells the tale of two light skinned African American women, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry, who are linked with one another through race, but separated by whom they racially identify themselves with. Larsen explores the burden that segregation put on all light skinned African Americans who are able to pass as white. She also examines how these conflicted the African Americans whose skin was too dark to do so. Passing is when someone of African American decent, with light colored skin, pass themself off as white. Through this act, blacks were able to enjoy white privileges that segregation laws deprived them of. The case of Plessy vs. Ferguson ruled ‘separate but equal’ a law. Although separate, black and white was not equal according to the societal constructs of America at the time. Larsen portrays the struggle of passing blacks,…show more content…
When Irene visits Clare at her home, she has the pleasure of meeting her husband John. He calls Clare “nig” and openly discusses his hate for “niggers,” believing he is in room with only white people. Larsen portrays how Irene is negatively affected by the white world through this uncomfortable situation that Clare obliges her to endure. She is forced to deny her true identity in front of John so that she can remain loyal to Clare’s true identity, or risk him finding out that he married a woman of color. "She couldn't betray Clare, couldn't even run the risk of appearing to defend a people that were being maligned for fear that that defense might in some infinitesimal degree lead the way to final discovery of her secret! (Larsen
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