English 102 Prof. S. Dillion
Feminist Literary Analysis Paper 2
20 March 2015
“A Lesson in Oppression” From the beginning of time and around the world, women have been subjected to patriarchal oppression in various forms. From economic hardships such as wage gaps or an inability to own property, to social mores such as submission in marriage and sexual objectification, women are systematically treated as second- class citizens without a voice. African American women have faced these gendered challenges in addition to racial discrimination in the forms of slavery, unfair taxation, red-lining, unequal access to education and derogatory media representation to name a few. “Passing” by Nella Larsen portrays two African American women as main characters who experience racial and gender oppression in various ways. Webster’s Dictionary defines oppression as: the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control, prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control; mental pressure or distress. Larsen’s story delves into social and feminist issues of oppression such as loss of identity, oppressiveness of marriage, women’s independence relating to women’s lack of independence, the importance of marriage in society, how race and class function in society, and how relationships are dictated by race, class, and gender.
Many of the issues explored in the story were likely experiences by the author herself. Similar to the main character Irene, Nella Larsen was