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Themes of Sexual and Racial Tensions in Nella Larsens Passing In Nella Larsens Passing we are privy to Irene Redfields commentary on her encounters with Clare Kendry Irene presents herself as a wealthy well educated sophisticated woman and a respected member of the Harlem Community Conversely she describes Clare as a traitor to her people the Harlem society and socially undesirable due to the fact that she passes as white and marries a white man Although Irene expresses great contempt for Clare she also possesses a deep admiration for her This admiration could also be translated into sexual desire or lust Throughout the novel Irene attempts to rationalize her mysterious feelings toward Clare Kendry but she cannot To Irene security was the most important and desired thing in life 235 Her erotic feelings of adoration for Clare threatened her feeling of security and that made Irene despise Clare It is true that before one attempts to address the questions and problems of racial identity the equally important questions of gender and sexual identity should be addressed While it is true that Clare is passing Irene is passing as well As a Negro Clare must pass to gain security in a heterosexual society Until Clare arrives on the scene Irene is a secure woman She busies herself with social activities and the raising of her two boys However something is very wrong While en route to the printing shop Irene begins to voice her concerns about queer ideas sex jokes that the boys had been coming up with Brian answers If sex isnt a joke what is it He goes on to say that the sooner and more he their son learns about sex the better for him it will keep him from lots of disappointments later on 189 Brians response to her query suggests that to him sex is a joke Furthermore his counter indicates that his sex life
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