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Passing by Nella Larsen

            In Nella Larsen's book, "Passing", it tells a story of two very similar African-American women who have two different experiences in dealing with their race. Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield were both brought up as African-American women in a time where race was a social issue and of confusion. In the book "Passing", Nella Larsen illustrates certain themes such as identity crisis, race, lies, betrayal, sexuality and jealousy. The book explores the life of Clare Kendry who decided to abandon her African-American heritage and contrasts the life of Irene Redfield who finds this abandonment as a problem. .
             Both of these women come from a mixed ancestry, which gives them a very light-skinned complexion. For a person like Clare Kendy this feature becomes an outlet for her from her African descent, which allows her to pass as white American women. With this factor, she chooses to ignore and abandon her background and takes on a whole new approach to life as passing for white. She marries a white man, who assumes that she is white, and lives her life as a white woman. This part of the book gives us a clear understanding of identity crisis. When asked about her past, she makes up some type of bogus story. .
             In the book, Irene presents herself as a stable, secured, wealthy and well-educated woman who involves her self in her community in Harlem. After a certain amount of years, Claire and Irene encounter each other at the Drayton. Irene expresses her thoughts on Claire. She considers Claire to be a traitor because she passes as a white woman and married a white man. She is also amazed with the way that Claire carries herself. In a sense she is also jealous of Claire's social status as passing as a white women. Irene will only sometimes try to pass as a white woman, but she has never had the courage to leave her identity. The reason being is because of her fear of being caught, which is clearly stated in the scene at the Drayton.

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