Nella Larsen's Passing (and Clare Kendry)
Let's face it...we have a lot of feels about Clare Kendry, don't we?
Not since our Monthly Book Box community met Edith Wharton's Undine Spragg (The Custom of the Country Book Box) has a character engendered so much feeling amongst us! I think Ms. Larsen wrote her that way just as purposefully as Ms. Wharton did when she wrote Undine - to be the perfect embodiment of one side of the equation.
How would you sum up Clare Kendry?
Here's what a couple of our members said:
"Clare is...someone who does whatever is needed to better her situation with zero regard for the repercussions to others. She is smart enough to know her effect on people and how beauty and charm can help her in her manipulations. And when Irene begins to distance herself and her family, she inserts herself right back in. She doesn’t like not being the center of attention. As far as wanting to be among her “people” again, I think it was partly loneliness but mostly wanting to show that she is better than them. I think marrying a racist had at least a couple of purposes, one being she married someone she thought was like her dad in his abuse of her hidden origins, and his racism just helped reinforce her commitment to the life of 'passing for white' she had chosen, and contributed to her self-image of being so much smarter than everyone else." -L
"I got the feeling that her getting involved with her black friends was for the thrill of it - a kind of see what I can get away with? attitude. When she had her black friends over and she knew her husband would be there, she knew they would find out that he was racist. She wanted them to know. It confirmed to her that she was more clever than her friends or her husband." -G