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Passing (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Black & White, February 4, 2003
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The tale is simple on the surface--a few adventures in Chicago and New York's high life, with lots of real people and race-mixing events described (explicated by Thadious M. Davis's helpful introduction and footnotes). But underneath, it seethes with rage, guilt, sex, and complex deceptions. Irene fears losing her black husband to Clare, who seems increasingly predatory. Or is this all in Irene's mind? And is everyone wearing a mask? Larsen's book is a scary hall of mirrors, a murder mystery that can't resolve itself. It sticks with you. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
"Passing" begins with a letter received. By inviting us to peer into the contents of personal correspondence in the grand tradition of the epistolary novel, then denying us the full contents, the reader must come to terms with a limited, and even deceptive narrative style. Irene Redfield refuses to open a letter she has just gotten from a childhood acquaintance with whom she has had only brief communication with since, Clare Kendry. Irene then reflects on the time, two years ago, when she happened unexpectedly upon Clare at a rooftop restaurant in Chicago. As 'black' women who can 'pass' for 'white,' they meet at this decidedly white restaurant, after gauging each other in confused silence.Read more ›
But through a chance meeting, where Irene is also passing for white, they meet after many years of separation. Irene has married a black doctor, who wants to move to Brazil and in effect pass as a latin American. He wants physically out of America while Irene wants out of the racial tensions of America.
Clare is drawn back to her racial roots by some mystery. She can't let go even though she knows it will be the end of her marriage and perhaps the loss of her daughter.
Clare's husband, John Bellows, is a avowed racist who calls Clare "Nig" because he jokes that she is getting darker, totally unaware of her race. Irene and another friend who is also passing endure Bellow's racist remarks but do not respond.
The book takes place over about a 2 year period as Clare flirts with the danger of discovery and also Irene's husband. Irene is in conflict as to whether to reveal the truth to John, which would get Clare out of her life. But she can't bring herself to do it.
The book tells of the conflict of being black and living white; it tells of the interracial circles of Harlem of the 1920's. It's a period of high racial tensions, but yet whites flock to Harlem because some see it as in vogue not because they seek an interracial culture.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Do not want to do thid review can't seem to get out of this screen to get back to my books. What the heck is going on. Why force me to de a review?Published 6 days ago by gail massey
Really good. I had this book added to my student's summer reading list and was able to finish this book in 3 days.Published 1 month ago by M. Verdun
Really amazing literary work.
I bought this edition for a college class (American Literature) per request of the professor. Read more
I read quite a bit, being a literature major, but there were definitely some plot twists I didn't see coming. Read morePublished 2 months ago by S Cox