Summary Of Passing By Nella Larsen

Decent Essays

In the passage from her novel Passing, Nella Larsen uses visual imagery and tone to contrast Clare, Gertrude, and Irene, and the differing social perspectives that each represents. At the beginning of the passage, Larsen uses elaborate adjectives, such as “rich,” “tall,” and “slim,” to illustrate Clare and her wealthy image. Additionally, Clare’s possession of “tea-things,” “rich amber fluid,” “glass pitcher,” and “slim glasses,” stresses Clare’s prosperous materialism, setting the basis that Clare’s advantageous social position from passing allowed her to reach this wealth. In the next few paragraphs, Larsen emphasizes the themes of fear and terror through Clare and Gertrude’s alternating tones in their dialogue about the risk of having a dark child. Clare believes the risk is “too hellish,” though her daughter, Margery, turned out “all right.” Since Clare’s life and marriage are built on the premise of passing as white, hell compares to having a dark child, because she would have no life if she did not pass. Although Gertrude, like Clare, has a white husband, Gertrude’s life would not be over if she had a dark child since her husband and his family …show more content…

Despite this, Gertrude says she was “scared to death”; in her case,“death” does not refer to her life ending since her husband “didn’t care what color it turned out,” but instead, her respectable position in society

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