Racism in “Passing” and “Uncle Tom’s Children” Novels Essay

March 1, 2022 by Essay Writer

Updated: Aug 24th, 2020

Unfortunately, discrimination has always been an integral part of human society. The values appreciated at a certain stage of the evolution of various communities and their lifestyle impacted the formation of the privileged class which occupied the dominant position and exploited the other members of the society. Traditionally, such concerns as the wealth, social position, and ethnicity served as the basis for the discrimination. Therefore, the evolution of the society gave rise to the reconsideration of the approach to racism and promoted the increase of the level of consciousness of the discriminated people. At the beginning of the 20th century In the USA, the scale of the challenge became so significant that several writers devoted their novels to it, trying to highlight the most topical problems.

The novel Passing by Nella Larsen relates to the given issue and describes the American society of the 1920s. The author delves into the nagging problem of the crossing of racial boundaries. The main characters of the book Clare and Irene belong to the discriminated minority; however, they try to cross the color line and become the members of the community. At first, it seems that Clare manages to do it. She is married to a white man who does not realize the ethnicity of his wife, and she enjoys her position. However, the events of the novel evidence that Clare tries not only to preserve her identity but “to nibble at the cakes of another folk” (Larsen 169) and belong to some other group.

Wright also touches upon the problem of racism and discrimination. His collection of novels Uncle Toms Children portrays the hostile American society that is not able to accept the right of black people to live under the same conditions. The collection is focused on the most disgusting manifestations of the biased attitude. One of the novels Big Boy Leaves Home presents a reader with the story of a group of young teens going to swim in the restricted area. The friends are young and humorous; however, they already start to realize the gap between them and white people. They are addressed “Hey, niggers” (Wright 236) and are shown the peculiarities of the attitude towards them. Moreover, they become haunted just because of trespassing.

it follows from these cogitations that both Larsen and Wright tend to describe the society and the major concerns related to the relations between races. However, being similar in the description of the discriminated minorities, their novels depict different worlds. Larsen is more interested in the description of the process of passing, which implies the miscegenation and the problems related to it. To be accepted, a person has to refuse his/her ethnicity. For Clare race is “The thing that bound and suffocated her” (Larsen 242). Belonging to two worlds, she is not able to solve her inner conflict and is doomed to fail. Wright, on the contrary, tends to describe the world hostile to black people. The novels from the collection reveal various aspects of the relations between whites and blacks. Mann, the main character of Down by Riverside presents the main author’s idea “It just did not seem fair that one man should be hit so hard and on so many sides at once” (Wright 251).

To summarize, Larsen and Wright provide a detailed description of the society suffering from the manifestations of racism. However, the authors depict different worlds as they are interested in the investigation of various problems.

Works Cited

Larsen, Nella. The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen: Passing, Quicksand, and The Stories. New York: Anchor Books Edition. 2001. Print.

Wright, Richard. Uncle Tom’s Children. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2008. Print.

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