Psychological Complications In Nella Larsen's Passing

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In Nella Larsen's Passing, Irene Redfield, a light-skinned African American woman racially passing for white, faces psychological complications with Clare Kendry's risky decisions and faulty reasoning. In the beginning, Irene, the protagonist, goes to the Drayton, a classy hotel, to drink tea while visiting Chicago. For a while, she notices a beautiful woman staring at her and after a long period, the strange woman approaches her table. During their discussion, Irene identifies this woman as Clare Kendry, a woman from her childhood. After their brief reunion, Clare invites Irene for tea at her house and Irene accepts. When Clare's husband, Jack Bellew, enters the room during the women's conversation, Irene learns that Clare has been concealing…show more content…
Despite passing and recognizing the white race as being superior and the black race as being inferior, Clare creates a burden on Irene's shoulders that she must carry. When Clare talks with Irene, she claims that she misses black people and wishes to rejoin once again with them. Hearing about the Negro Welfare League dance, she seizes her opportunity and continually begs Irene to welcome her to the event. Realizing the problems that may come from allowing Clare to the dance, Irene says, "I don't care where you go, or what you do. All I'm concerned with is the unpleasantness and possible danger which your going might incur, because of your situation" (55). At first Irene stays firm and gives Irene reasons why she should not attend the social function. Irene realizes that by Clare attending the dance, her and Clare's safety as well as the safety of others, may be jeopardized if one of John Bellew's friends appears to the dance. Clare's primary concern with her self-interest puts Irene ". . . in a near rage of impatience and exasperation" (55). Irene desperately tries convincing Clare that she should stay away from the social gathering but Clare stubbornly disregards the well-being of others. By putting Irene in danger at the dance, Clare threatens Irene's social

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