Widely recognized as a cornerstone text with the Harlem Renaissance, Nella Larsen’s 1929 storia Passing is concerned with its denominar subject in more ways than one. Although racial transferring undoubtedly constitutes the text’s thematic center, Larsen’s narrative also implicitly addresses the theme of lovemaking passing. This really is most quickly observable in Irene Redfield, who deals with to “pass” as heterosexual while simultaneously harboring a desire for the enigmatic Clare Kendry. A great analysis of Irene’s under control erotic desire to have Clare not only contextualizes the former’s obsession with the latter but likewise sheds light on the precise nature of Irene’s struggling relationship with her hubby, Brian. Furthermore, such a reading offers another zoom lens through which someone can interpret Irene’s suspect actions inside the novella’s ending. In response to critics who contend that queer examining and theorizing are a bit more than serves of ideological and politics navel-gazing, We argue that to measure Passing coming from a unorthodox perspective does not undermine the gravity of Larsen’s story. Rather, the thematic ramifications of this point of view harmonize with Passing’s meaningful message. Ultimately, Larsen’s operate is a succinct treatise for the psychological dangers of repression and self-loathing. A queer reading does not litter or detract from this message—it fortifies and enriches it.
Irene’s infatuation with Clare is usually evident using their first face at the Drayton Hotel, the remembrance that causes inch[b]rilliant red sections [to flame] in Irene Redfield’s warm olive cheeks” (Larsen 11). The feeling is obviously reciprocated: In her notice to Irene, Clare remarks, “I  cannot support longing to be in his campany you once again, as I have never longed for anything just before, and I possess wanted several things in my life. […. ] Really like an discomfort, a pain that never ceases” (11). Irene’s descriptions of Clare will be distinctly homoerotic in tone. To Irene, Clare is a “lovely creature” (17) with “strange, languorous eyes” (16) and an endearing smile Irene looks at “a hue too provocative” (15), later on in the storia, she uses a similar number when the lady notes that Clare “was just a tone too good-looking” (70). This bubbling sexual tension among Irene and Clare climaxes in a picture fraught with subdued sensuality: “[l]ooking by [Clare], Irene Redfield had a immediate inexplicable onrush of loving feeling. Reaching out, she grasped Clare’s two hands in her own and cried with something such as awe in her voice: ‘Dear The almighty! But usually are you wonderful, Clare! ‘” (65). When Larsen by no means explicitly states that the marriage between both of these women is a homoerotic one, one can contacts from this fiel evidence which the possibility of a romantic and sex subtext may not be far-fetched.
Faraway from distracting via Larsen’s principal narrative of internecine racism and self-loathing, reading Completing from a queer perspective adds an additional layer of complexity to Irene’s previously nuanced figure. Much in the way that Clare “passes” as white-colored partly by simply marrying a white person, one can argue that Irene “passes” as heterosexual through her participation in heteronormative matrimony, albeit a sexless a single. A successful and lauded doctor, prodigiously dedicated to his career, and also a thoroughgoing pushover, Brian is the ideal husband intended for Irene, who have subconsciously tries to maintain the illusion of heterosexual propriety and respectability without compromising her repulsion to guy intimacy. Larsen’s narrator leaves little area for model concerning Irene’s motive in marrying Brian: For Irene, “security was your most important and desired part of life. […. ] The lady wanted just to be relaxing. Only, unmolested, to be in order to direct because of their own best good the lives of her kids and her husband” (107). When the girl begins to think that Brian is having an affair with Clare, Irene breaks down—not since she adores her husband and anxieties losing him but since she fears the loss of balance and heterosexual propriety that he represents. Irene’s matrimony to Brian is one of pragmatism and control instead of love and respect, to Irene, Brian is merely “her husband plus the father of her sons” (107), the important thing to the lout security she so frantically craves. In this way, Irene’s marital life to Brian complements the novel’s fiel politics by mirroring Clare’s marriage for the deeply racist John Bellew. Both Irene and Clare have forced themselves to suppress integral aspects of all their identity—race and sexuality, respectively—to conform to a cultural metanarrative of white-colored supremacy and heterosexism.
Larsen’s attitude toward these kinds of women’s choices is extremely evident, if a bit remarkable: For both equally Irene and Clare, repression and self-denial lead without doubt to violence and break down. Clare under your own accord subjects their self to an abusive relationship with a staunch white colored supremacist. Furthermore, unable to cope with the knowledge that her hubby and channel to a reputable heteronormative lifestyle is possibly committing adultery with the the case object of her ailments, Irene is usually driven to homicide. Approved, Larsen leaves the question of blame somewhat ambiguous, nevertheless the text alone seems to support the claim that Irene is in charge of Clare’s death in the novellas final phase. Perhaps, after that, the question to inquire is not really whether it absolutely was Irene whom pushed Clare, “[t]hat magnificence that experienced torn at Irene’s placid life” (110), to her death from a six-story window, rather, a more pertinent problem would be whether Irene pressed Clare to hold her from Brian or whether Irene pushed Clare to keep her away from himself.