2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

African American Women in the 1920s: Oppressive Dominated Hierarchies in Nella Larsen's Passing
Megan N. King
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Nella Larsen’ Passing (1929) proclaims the hardships and struggles African American women faced during the 1920s in a very “white,” male, class-structured society. In Passing (1929), the two most conspicuous characters, Irene and Clare, conceal their exceedingly similar African ancestry by exemplifying the manifestation of “passing” to be white women—assimilating the role of white women, while attempting to camouflage their African ancestry from those they surround themselves with. Through examining Irene and Clare, it is evident that oppressive dominated hierarchies extrinsically dictate their identities, ultimately detaining them from acquiring autonomy. In order to gain control of their autonomy, Irene and Clare must challenge their domineering, oppressive culture. In this paper, I will be categorizing the aspects of social oppression, which these women face. These aspects can be best interpreted through the African American, Feminist, and Marxist critical theories. By classifying the oppression of each woman into these categories, one may achieve a greater realization of how African American women were coerced in the 1920s.

Keywords: African American , Literature, Feminist, Marxist, Theory

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 9-4
Location: VH 1428
Time: 9:00 am

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