Nella Larsen: Passing, Quicksand, and The Stories
Ontological Plurality: The Solution to Limited Racial Problematization
Problematizing the comfortably depicted notions of race is essential in the struggle for, not only racial equality but rather, the complete erasure of the racial binary. This entails an adoption of strategies stereotypically adhered to by a racial-culture. Catalyzing this (semi-complicated, but really just badly worded abstract principle) is the notion of ‘passing’. Passing presents itself as “more than just a racial strategy: it is a strategy to be a person." It is a strategy that enables the abandonment of the stereotypically perceived behaviors of a racial sect all while embracing new cultural flavors. It is a strategy that facilitates the search for identity. However, it is “only when passing becomes a subversive strategy for avoiding the enclosures of a racist, classist, and sexist society [that it becomes] truly liberating.” For then passing becomes not an usurpation of a lifestyle/identity that one would like to be a part of or would like to be, but rather a way of escaping the society-erected Pygmalion defining and categorizing the races. Nella Larsen’s Helga Crane and Clare Kendry illustrate the different ways in which to tackle and, arguably, problematize the racial binary; while Helga Crane searches aimlessly...
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