Passing

Gertrude Martin Character Analysis

Gertrude Martin is a childhood acquaintance of Clare and Irene, the wife of Fred Martin, and the daughter of a butcher. Gertrude was beautiful when she was young, but has apparently not aged well. Irene encounters her when she goes to Clare’s for tea. Gertrude can pass as white, and is married to a white man (a butcher like her father) who knows that she is black. During tea, Gertrude expresses her aversion to dark-skinned children to Clare and Irene, making Irene angry.

Gertrude Martin Quotes in Passing

The Passing quotes below are all either spoken by Gertrude Martin or refer to Gertrude Martin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor Books edition of Passing published in 2001.
Part 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

Later, when she examined her feeling of annoyance, Irene admitted, a shade reluctantly, that it arose from a feeling of being outnumbered, a sense of aloneness, in her adherence to her own class and kind; not merely in the great thing of marriage, but in the whole pattern of her life as well.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield, Gertrude Martin
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

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It’s awful the way it skips generations and then pops out. Why, he actually said he didn’t care what color it turned out, if I would only stop worrying about it. But, of course, nobody wants a dark child.

Related Characters: Gertrude Martin (speaker), Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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He roared with laughter. Clare’s ringing bell-like laugh joined his. Gertrude, after another uneasy shift in her seat, added her shrill one. Irene, who had been sitting with lips tightly compressed, cried out: “That’s good!” and gave way to gales of laughter. She laughed and laughed and laughed. Tears ran down her cheeks. Her sides ached. Her throat hurt. She laughed on and on and on, long after the others had subsided.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield, John/Jack Bellew, Gertrude Martin
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Gertrude Martin Character Timeline in Passing

The timeline below shows where the character Gertrude Martin appears in Passing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 3
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...Irene does not recognize her, but then she identifies her, and asks, “how are you, Gertrude?” (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Gertrude, a mutual childhood acquaintance, greets Irene. Irene thinks about how Gertrude, like Clare, married a... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene observes Gertrude, thinking she seems uncomfortable, and feels annoyed. The narrator notes that later, when Irene thinks... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Irene agrees, and asks how Clare found Gertrude. Clare says she looked up the contact information for Gertrude’s father’s store—a butcher shop. Irene... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Clare tells Irene that Gertrude told her before Irene arrived about her two twin boys, and the tone in Clare’s... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
...was so terrified during her pregnancy that Margery would have dark skin. Irene is silent. Gertrude empathizes with Clare. She says that, while her husband would have been fine with a... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Irene promptly replies that one of her boys is dark, and Gertrude is shocked and embarrassed. She asks if Irene’s husband is dark as well. Irene, though... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
...much about skin pigment, and saying it’s not so important for Irene, or even for Gertrude. Clare says that only “deserters” like her have to be afraid of “freaks of nature.”... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Gertrude tells Clare that Claude Jones converted to Judaism, and says she would “die laughing” if... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
...surprised Irene would have expected them to think of that. The conversation gets tense. Meanwhile, Gertrude is confused and surprised. Clare then steers the conversation away from race and religion to... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...Clare was with at the Drayton. John greets Clare by saying “Hello, Nig,” shocking both Gertrude and Irene. Irene is confused, and thinks that maybe John knows that Clare comes from... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Clare introduces John to Gertrude and Irene, and then asks if Irene and Gertrude heard her husband’s nickname for her.... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
Gertrude makes a noise, and Irene cannot tell whether it is a giggle or a snort.... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...black people in South America before Clare cuts him off. John backs off and asks Gertrude about her life in Chicago. As they discuss Chicago and New York, Irene is astonished... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...in the hotel. Irene plays along, saying she likes it. They all say goodbye, and Gertrude and Irene get in the elevator together silently. (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
On the street, Gertrude exclaims that Clare must be crazy to be living in that situation, and Irene agrees... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene and Gertrude part ways. Now alone, Irene processes the tea party, and her own contemptuous anger. She... (full context)