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Kaytlynn Petersendraftfinalv2

Kaytlynn Petersendraftfinalv2 - Kaytlynn Petersen ENC1145...

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Kaytlynn Petersen 2/27/11 ENC1145 Paper 2/Draft 2 “ ‘Passing’ implies impersonation, acting as if one is someone or something one is not.” 1 This being stated, there are many ways one can pass, through gender, race, age, class and etc. Nella Larsen’s novel “Passing” talks about two women who “pass” through their race and sexuality. Irene, the main character only passes obviously once or twice in the novel, but there is an underlying trace of her “passing” in her sexuality. Whereas Clare passes through every aspect of her life. Throughout most of the story, we see the good consequences that come from passing. For Clare, they are the promise of security in her life. For Irene, it’s a chance to get away from her seemingly hectic life. However, the novel “Passing” opens up the readers eyes to the psychological consequences people endure when they are “passing”. These consequences are mostly negative and range from losing a sense of self, to possibly even suicide. Clare seems to be content with passing at first but, as the story unfolds, we see that she has a growing conflict with passing, ultimately leading to her tragic death. As for Irene, her passing seems to make her go mad. 2 We are first introduced to Clare Kendry on the rooftop of the Drayton Hotel. She is described as being attractive with her “dark eyes” and “ivory skin”( passing 9). Clare tells Irene the story of where she went after her father died, and stories of how she grew up learning to pass. 1 Those loud black girls” 2
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She seems to be content with the life she has achieved from passing, however, we get the first taste of her unhappiness when she talks about her secret trips back to the south side, referring to these trips as “being able to get away.” She enjoyed her new life, but yet still had that yearning to be back in her past life. When she met Jack, her husband, she felt that balancing her two lives became too difficult, so she chose to elope with Jack and leave her past behind her. As the story progresses and Clare spends more and more time with Irene in Harlem, her conflict with who she is and who she thought she wanted to be grows stronger. In a talk with Irene during one of her first visits to Harlem, Clare talks about how discontent she is with her life. “You behaved beautifully that day. But I did think you’d understand ‘Rene. It was that, partly, that has made me want to see other people. It just swooped down and changed everything. If it hadn’t been for that, I’d have gone on to the end,never seeing any of you. But that did something to me, and I’ve been so lonely since! You can’t know. Not close to a single soul. Never anyone to really talk to”( Passing 47) The ‘that’ in which Clare refers to is Irene witnessing Jack call Clare ‘Nig’ and talk poorly about black people. For Clare, seeing Irene again opened her eyes to how lonely her lifestyle really is. Her loneliness and her “desire to return for a moment to that life” (7) is seen clearly in the letter
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Kaytlynn Petersendraftfinalv2 - Kaytlynn Petersen ENC1145...

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