Teacher Guide

Passing Lesson Plan

Introduction to Passing

A tightly constructed, psychologically incisive commentary on race relations in the early decades of the 20th century, Passing (1929) is the single best-known work of African-American novelist Nella Larsen. On one level, the book is a study of a fraught social choice: the decision that an African-American woman, Clare Kendry, makes to leave black society and "pass" as white. Yet on another level, Passing is a more universal study of psychology and perception--a consideration of the uncertainty of friendship, the difficulties of marriage, and the dissatisfactions that neither wealth nor education can erase.

While Clare and her choice motivate much of the action in Passing, the novel...

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