Undergraduate Thesis Or Project


Black Motherhood and Freedom in Nella Larsen's "Passing" Public Deposited

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  • In Nella Larsen’s novel Passing, the character of Irene notes how “no one is every completely happy, or free, or safe,” which highlights how social limitations in American society restrict access to freedom and safety from those who do not conform to standards as defined by American society– something especially prevalent in the history of black motherhood. While there has been discussion of the theme of black motherhood throughout Nella Larsen’s works, it is important to also draw a connection between this theme and that of freedom. We see how the struggles of the characters in Nella Larsen’s novel Passing highlight the clash between black motherhood and expressions of the American understanding of freedom through the Pursuit of Happiness and property. The concept of freedom is one that is deeply baked into American national identity. However, there is a disconnect between the cultural definition of freedom and the reality of expressions of it. In reading more critically the nature of freedom as it relates to those underprivileged within American society, we can begin to deconstruct the limitations to freedom, and better understand the impact had on those who are unable to conform to established social and economic norms, and begin to seek reform and understanding.
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