Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Nella Larsen's Passing. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Passing: Plot Summary
Passing: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Passing: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Nella Larsen
Historical Context of Passing
Other Books Related to Passing
- Full Title: Passing
- Where Written: Harlem, New York City
- When Published: 1929
- Literary Period: Harlem Renaissance and American Modernism
- Genre: Novel
- Setting: Chicago and Harlem, New York City
- Climax: Clare’s death after falling or being pushed through a sixth-floor window. Larsen leaves it ambiguous whether the death was a murder or an accident.
- Antagonist: John Bellow
- Point of View: Third person limited narrative from Irene’s perspective
Extra Credit for Passing
Plagiarism Accusations. Nella Larsen was accused of plagiarizing British author Sheila Kaye-Smith’s short story “Mrs. Adis,” whose plot resembled Larsen’s short story “Sanctuary.” This accusation is disputed, but although it was never proved, Larsen never published anything after “Sanctuary.”
Guggenheim Fellowship. Nella Larsen won the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1930, which allowed her to travel in Europe while working on her writing. However, she did not succeed in publishing anything after 1930.