Comparison between Nella Larsen's 'Passing' and James Mcbride's 'The Color of Water'
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"For They Were Addicted To The Pass"
In many ways, literature has the ability to document the past in much of the same way as the formal discipline of history. Actually, there are several respects in which literature surpasses history's ability to preserve the thoughts and sentiments that existed before, since the former frequently delves into the emotional complexities and the ramifications of historical events which the latter merely details. In that respect, the prudent scholar may learn much about the nature of the struggles of those who are foreigners to conventional white American culture by reading a pair of works of literature, Nella Larsen's Passing and James McBride's The Color of Water. Despite the fact that Larsen's tale is largely fictional whereas McBride's narrative is an autobiographical work based on his life as an African American and his mother's life as a white woman, each sheds a considerable amount of insight into the process of adapting to traditional American culture. When one pauses to examine the facts of both of these respective pieces of literature, it becomes apparent that Clare Kendry's approach to adaptation is based upon assimilation whereas Ruth's approach in raising her black children was one of denial. In light of the fact that the historical epoch in Passing preceded that of The Color of Water, one can argue that there has been progress in what is required to integrate within American culture as a foreigner, although there is still a