Document Type

Undergraduate Project

Publication Date



In lieu of an abstract, below is the essay's first paragraph.

Nella Larsen’s Passing introduces two African American women on a quest for an integrated identity. Irene and Clare are two pale-skinned, childhood friends who are light enough to pass for white. Passing is a work concerned with the representation and construction of race. Clare Kendry passes for white and she “whitens” her lifestyle by adjusting her clothes, behavior, gestures, and etiquette while resisting and denying any existence of her black culture. Irene on the other hand, lives as a black woman but remains a part of the black community only superficially. She occasionally masks her blackness and passes for white for her own convenience. Despite this racial divide, both women desire to achieve an integrated identity to live as both black and white. Irene attempts to achieve this integrated identity by accepting and practicing white standards while living as a black woman. Clare attempts to achieve an integrated identity by finding her way back to the black community. However, they ultimately fail at achieving this integrated identity as the novel reinforces the societal belief that a person can only have one race as either black or white, but not both.


Paper from Dr. Deborah Uman's English Senior Seminar course, Fall 2012.

Additional Files

Poster-Davis.pdf (795 kB)