Nella Larsen Passing Analysis

Words: 1761
Pages: 8

Passing a novel by Nella Larsen tells the story of Irene Redfield and her life after a chance encounter with her old friend Clare Kendry. Larsen wrote the novel in 1929 and the story delves into the topic in which it gained its namesake, "passing". The term passing refers to, "the ability of a person to be regarded as a member of social groups other than his or her own, such as a different race, ethnicity, caste, social class, gender, age and/or disability status" ( During this time period, many stories were written on similar topics, many times using the stereotype of the "tragic mulatto" to drive the storyline. Larsen follows suit, using the character of Clare to fill the tragic …show more content…
We are only given information through the thoughts and actions of Irene, this could skew the actual events throughout the story. Her emotions could have clouded her judgment, leading her to inconspicuously push Clare. We already know that Irene was upset by Clare's intrusion in her life, Irene even blames Clare for the issues arising in her household. Irene starts out very level-headed and emotionally strong, she is proud of her family's strength, but in reality, she easily falls apart. Prior to the party, Irene's emotions get the best of her and she jumps to conclusions about Clare and Brian's relationship. When Clare falls out of the window, Irene becomes overly confused. Her thoughts become extremely fragmented and this leads one to question why she is more emotional than the rest of the dinner party. While everyone else is clearly disturbed, Irene takes it to a whole new level. When she reunites with the group discussing what truly happened this happens, "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"(Larsen 275). Irene has the right motive to push Clare out the window and given the state, she is in after she may have made the brash decision. Her mind was not clear after the events, and she seems extremely disturbed. Her thoughts immediately turn to how Clare looked before she fell and how everyone must think that she just slipped and fell out by accident. It's almost like she is trying to convince herself that it was either Clare's doing or an accident. Another notion is that Irene may be jealous of Clare's situation Carter