In Passing, how similar and yet how different are the characters of Irene and Clare? Compare them throughout the text.

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In Nella Larsen’s novel, it is Clare who most obviously embodies Passing. In this, she seems very different from Irene. Clare has decided to accept the social discrimination against black people and pass as white. She envied people who seemed to succeed effortlessly, as she tells Irene.

"I used almost to hate all of you. You had all the things I wanted and never had had. It made me all the more determined to get them, and others."

These feelings fed into her decision to move away and marrying a white man. She tries to dismiss the harmful emotional impact of his racism. Irene, in contrast, is fully immersed in African American society, and married to a kind, altruistic husband. Feeling a deep "yearning for my own people," Clare takes the bold step of leaving her husband and to begin identifying as black.

But the reader also sees that Irene is passing, though in a different connotation . She hides important aspects of her identity, as she internalizes her unhappiness and a kind of racialized...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 546 words.)

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