Passing: Black People and Hold Clare

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Trang Phan
September 13, 2012

People as the victim of inequality and social restriction (“Passing”_Nella Larsen)
The novel “Passing” was written in 1929 and become one of the most famous novels of Nella Larsen. Like other novels which were also written about “passing”, “Passing” of Nella Larsen reflects the tough life of African-American in the 19th century, when they were struggling with racism to have the equal rights. Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield in “Passing” both were born Negroes but with light skin so that they could be “passing”. However, these two women have different choices in their life, which lead to the tragedy when they meet each other after twelve years. The novel ends with Clare’s death without revealing to the readers who kills her, which encourages the readers to think of the uncertain end of “Passing” by logically interpreting evidence throughout of the novel. By that way, Nella Larsen might want her readers to be open-minded to understand how people become the victim of inequality and social restriction in term of race and gender.

Ending her novel in uncertainty, Nella Larsen makes her readers curious about who is responsible for Clare’s death. The two possible things might happen are whether Clare commits suicide or Irene pushes her out of the window. Clare has her reasons to commit suicide since her husband finds out that she was born a Negro. For him, all Negroes are “black scrimy devils” and “always robbing and killing people” (70). These prejudices exist not only in Jack’s mind but also among many white people. These cruel prejudices and discrimination had threatened Clare’s marriage for a long time before her death. Clare might be always ready for the day that the truth about her race would take everything from her. When Irene asked her whether she thought of how she could do if her husband finds out about her race, she just said yes with a smile. And at the moment Clare stands near the window, “she seemed unaware of...
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