“It wasn’t that she was ashamed of being a Negro, or even of having it declared. It was the idea of being ejected from any place, even in a polite and tactful way” (Larsen, 8). This quote encompasses what is means for an individual to partake in ‘Passing.’ Through the process of passing, citizens of black decent were able to be socially accepted and never excluded from facilities and events that individuals who were declared black were restricted from. Irene and Clare meet up after twelve years of not being in contact. Before meeting Irene thinks that Clare is just a woman accusing her of being a Negro, but little does she know that this woman is her childhood friend who is also living the life of a passing individual. The two are very much alike, however there is one thing that sets them significantly a part. While both women are married, Irene’s husband Brian understands her lifestyle of passing, but Clare’s white and racist husband John, on the other hand, does not know that his wife is of black ancestry. Irene and Clare remain in touch, and begin to frequently spend time together. Things between Irene and Clare get personal when Brian and Clare begin to spend more time together. While both Brian and Clare are oblivious as to what is going on, Irene feels otherwise. She is on the edge of accusing Clare of having an affair with her husband, Brian. While there is no concrete evidence to prove that such an event has taken place, Irene is caught up with ideas of how she will get rid of Clare to get her husband back. Irene is faced with the decision to tell Clare’s white husband, that his wife is actually “passing.” However, Irene is stuck between “two allegiances,” which are “herself” and...
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...r her convenience and appearing black when around people of “her race.” While she thinks she is dealing with “two allegiances” she is not. Irene is Irene, regardless of her physical identity and genetics. While Irene veers away from telling John about his wife, she is scared that he will ruin her social identity. If he ruins Irene’s social identity, her entire being will not be accepted, both in the black and white community. This would be so because the white’s would not want to interact with such a race, and the black’s would feel much disrespect to her wanting to be of another ethnicity for convenient purposes. Irene not being able to tell John pays tribute to the fact that telling him would be detrimental to her social acceptance. Irene wanted to cause distress to her old friend’s marriage, but was confused between saving her marriage, or killing her reputation.
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