Passing is a novel about racial identity and its inherent conflicts. Throughout the story, the two main characters Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry illustrate the difficulties faced by African American women who could "pass" as white women. Passing has diverse internal implications that can be understood by analyzing the two main characters. The word "passing" has profoundly deep meanings such as women's jealousy between Clare and Irene, which is portrayed in the beginning of the novel, the loss of one's identity, and it creates a greed for a luxurious life. Irene and Clare both exemplify these characteristics in the novel. .
From the beginning, Passing implies women's jealousy. Irene's jealousy is rooted in hypocrisy. It is not Clare's passing that Irene's hates, but Clare's success. It mocks everything that Irene has done. It calls attention to Irene's oppression even as she believes herself to be above repression. With her "ivory face under that bright hair" (161) and her marriage to a rich white investor. Clare unintentionally becomes Irene's vivid connection to the upper white class. Both characters work opposite to fulfill their guilty conscious. Clare perceives Irene as her connection to the black world and Irene reconciles her craving to mingle in the white world. Irene despises Clare of "exquisite, golden, fragrant, flaunting" and "deliberate courting of attention" ( 203), while she herself spends an excessive amount of time dressing throughout the novel.
Concealing one's identity is an important factor for both characters in the novel. Clare spends an extensive amount of time to hide her blackness. Her character is shown as very inconspicuous throughout the novel. "When we were first married, she was as white as - as - well as white as a lily. But I declare she's gettin' darker and darker. I tell her if she don't look out, she'll wake up one of these days and find she's turned into a nigger"(171).