Passing One's True Self Patricia Jones Nella Larsen

Essay by CMaXiM87High School, 12th gradeB-, March 2004

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When one first considers the many thematic elements in a novel, it is likely that location would be taken fairly lightly. Where a character lives is not exactly eye- catching, but rather, the place of residence may often seem just a piece of the book's setting, and nothing more. However, a closer examination or a deeper excavation of a novel can reveal something to the contrary. Such is the case with these two particular novels entitled, Passing, by Patricia Jones and Nella Larsen. The theme of location is substantially present in each Passing novel, regarding how it relates to the differing views of the more prominent characters, to the character differentiation and to the author's ultimate maxim.

There are several ways in which the differing locations within the two books convey a more profound meaning. In Larsen's novel, Irene Redfield lives in New York, New York, while Clair Kendry lives in Chicago, Illinois (Larsen 9).

Hence, their living in two different cities gives them access to varying points of view. Thus, Irene's pride in her heritage is omnipresent in her everyday societal dealings. Eulelie, in Jones' novel, lives on Hilton Street and does not want anyone from East Baltimore or anywhere else to see her (Jones 4). Eulelie's discomfort is derived from the realization of her past. She has no desire to conform to the social standards of the common black society. Similar to Romeo and Juliet, the family's Giles and Hightower both viewed each other as lieges to society (Jones 166). Because their love was so profound, both Giles and Hightower were able to overcome the insurmountable social barriers which society had placed upon them. Though Hightower, in the end, no longer wished to marry Giles, the couple's deep love proved to be immune to the poisons of...