Essay Q: 5
“Her quaking knees gave way under her. She moaned and sank down, moaned again. Through the great heaviness that submerged and drowned her she was dimly conscious of strong arms lifting her up. Then everything was dark. Centuries after, she heard the strange man saying: “Death by misadventure, I’m inclined to believe. Let’s go up and have another look at that window.”
Upon a second reading of the novel Passing by Nella Larson, I have found undisputable evidence that Irene Redfield murdered Clare Kendry. Irene was mentally unstable from the beginning of the book. Her twisted interpretations of reality drove her to the point of being unhealthily obsessed with her husband, Brian, and ultimately to murdering Clare. Concrete evidence is given in the last paragraph of the novel, where Irene is sent to hell for the things she did.
When re-read, Irene’s guilt is foreshadowed several times in the novel before arriving at the smoking gun that is the last paragraph. Starting on page 110, Irene is at the party where the final scene takes place. She is still arriving to the party and is offered a drink almost immediately. Irene says “Thanks. If I must take something, make it a glass of ginger-ale and three drops of scotch.” This implies that Irene has at least some alcohol in her system at the time of the incident; and this very likely could have contributed to clouding her judgement and, with inhibitions lowered as an effect of the alcohol, encouraged her to do something she normally wouldn’t have done otherwise. Further implicating Irene in Clares murder is when Irene is speaking with Felise and says “It seems dreadfully warm in here. Mind if I open this window?” It seems strange to me that no one else was complaining about the heat in the room, and it is too much of a coincidence that this turns out to be the window Clare falls from later on.
Another quote that completely foreshadows the events about to take place is said by the narrator when he describes how “Irene finished her cigarette and threw it out, watching the tiny spark drop slowly down to the white ground below.” After a few drinks, and then watching her cigarette fall helplessly to the ground, may have been the exact moment that Irene decided exactly how she was going to kill Clare. It was already known that Irene wanted Clare dead from a previous encounter in the novel when Irene is quoted saying “If Clare should die! Then- oh, it was vile to think, yes, to wish that! But the thought stayed with her. She could not get rid of it.” Irene had killing Clare on her mind previous to the party and seeing how easily she tossed her cigarette out of the window and how far it fell to the ground could have been all the inspiration she needed to convince herself that this was a good way to kill Clare.
After Clare fell out the window and to her death, Irene’s actions were very suspicious. One of the most damning lines, incriminating Irene, was said by the narrator when it says “Irene wasn’t sorry. She was amazed, incredulous almost.” Irene wasn’t sorry because she knew in her heart that she did this on purpose. Her incredulity and amazement were due not to the fact that Clare fell out the window, but with herself for actually following through with her premeditation of pushing Clare out of the window. These are not the actions of someone who just witnessed their friend commit suicide, but that of someone who has just committed a horrible crime. One last instance that proves Irene pushed Clare is when Clare’s husband, Jack, yells “Nig! My God! Nig!” His exclamations are not directed at Clare, but at Irene because she just shoved his wife, that he loved up until a few paragraphs earlier, out of an open window. Why would Jack be yelling this at Clare after she has fallen all that way to the ground, and is most likely dead? He is yelling at Irene in disbelief of what he just witnessed her do to Clare.
At this point it is all too clear that...
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