In this paper I analyzed, “Passing” by Nella Larsen. This book is about two women exploring the shifting of racial boundaries. They are both biracial, but they pass as white. This story explores the different ways they use this to their advantage and even how one of them chose to pass permanently. During this time the “normal” female body was a white woman. I am going to analyze this piece of literature using the framework from Cressida J. Heyes’ theory of normalized bodies and self-transformation to look at how the women in this story were forced into a bodily mode of being due to the racism around this time. In this paper I argued that these women were forced to be something they were not due to racism and societal tendencies. In this story we get a glimpse into a lens of trying to pass because of the way society looked at black people during this time. These stories also provide a framework for how the normalization of bodies varies by race and ethnicity. Heyes’ theory goes into depth on the phenomenon of normalized bodies and using this to look at the women from “Passing” connects the argument that the women during this time were forced into these roles.
Lisa Ann Robertson
English, Philosophy, Women's Studies
Niles, Taylor, "A Feminist Interpretation of “Passing”" (2021). IdeaFest. 390.