`` Imitation Of Life `` By Nella Larsen 's, Quicksand And Passing, The Issue Of Passing
985 WordsMar 24, 20164 Pages
In the “Imitation of Life” and in Nella Larsen’s novellas, Quicksand and Passing, the issue of passing is presented and developed. In Passing, regarding Irene, “She wished to find out about this hazardous business of ‘passing,’ this breaking away from all that was familiar and friendly to take one’s chances in another environment, not entirely strange, perhaps, but certainly not entirely friendly” (Larsen 157). Both versions of the film and both novellas portray black women who come face to face with the act of passing. In the 1934 version of the “Imitation of Life,” the film deals with passing in terms of a lighter skinned girl named Peola while in the 1959 version, the lighter skinned girl’s name is Sarah Jane. The issue of passing in the film and literature remains relevant in the parallels and experiences found amongst Helga Crane in Quicksand, Irene and Clare in Passing, and Peola and Sarah Jane in the film adaptations. The black female characters struggle with the perks and acceptance allotted through passing in white society and the appreciation and understanding of their racial backgrounds.
In Larsen’s Quicksand, Helga Crane has a white mother and a black father who abandons Helga and her mother. Helga’s mother remarries a white man, and Helga’s struggle for identity and acceptance begins early in life when she struggles to identify fully with white or black communities. Helga states, “Negro society is as complicated and as rigid in its ramifications as the highest