Passing

Irene Redfield is Clare’s childhood acquaintance, Brian’s wife, and the protagonist of Passing. The book’s narrative is told in third person from Irene’s perspective. Irene is an uptight, intelligent, well-to-do woman from Chicago who lives in Harlem with her husband Brian and sons Ted and Junior. Irene cares deeply about her family life and values security above all else. Irene’s light skin allows her to pass as white when she is alone. Irene is committed to advancing black equality and takes part in activism to that end. Irene first meets Clare (as an adult) during a trip to Chicago, when she also meets Clare’s violently racist husband John. Not wanting to deal with John, and angry with Clare for subjecting her to John’s hate, Irene resolves to have nothing to do with Clare. She goes back on this resolution two years later, when Clare contacts her in New York and the two women strike up a friendship. Irene, however, harbors antipathy toward Clare for ambiguous and complex reasons. She eventually convinces herself that Clare and Brian are having an affair, but also may have repressed feelings for Clare herself. Irene, overcome by her jealousy and anxiety, is standing next to Clare when Clare falls through the window. The narrator is unclear whether Clare’s death was an accident or Irene pushed her.

Irene Redfield Quotes in Passing

The Passing quotes below are all either spoken by Irene Redfield or refer to Irene Redfield. 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 1 Quotes

This, she reflected, was of a piece with all that she knew of Clare Kendry. Stepping always on the edge of danger. Always aware, but not drawing back or turning aside. Certainly not because of any alarms or feeling of outrage on the part of others.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield
Related Symbols: Doorways, Windows, Thresholds
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

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.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Passing quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

You can’t know how in this pale life of mine I am all the time seeing the bright pictures of that other that I once thought I was glad to be free of….It’s like an ache, a pain that never ceases.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew (speaker), Irene Redfield
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

Part 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

White people were so stupid about such things for all that they usually asserted that they were able to tell; and by the most ridiculous means: fingernails, palms of hands, shapes of ears, teeth, and other equally silly rot. They always took her for an Italian, a Spaniard, a Mexican, or a Gypsy. Never, when she was alone, had they even remotely seemed to suspect that she was a Negro. No, the woman sitting there staring at her couldn’t possibly know.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

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 vol

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.

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 proide

Her lips, painted a brilliant geranium red, were sweet and sensitive and a little obstinate. A tempting mouth. The face across the forehead and cheeks was a trifle too wide, but the ivory skin had a peculiar soft luster. And the eyes were magnificent! Dark, sometimes absolutely black, always luminous, and set in long, black lashes. Arresting eyes, slow and mesmeric, and with, for all their warmth, something withdrawn and secret about them. Ah! Surely! They were Negro eyes! Mysterious and concealing. And set in that ivory face under that bright hair, there was about them something exotic. Yes, Clare Kendry’s loveliness was absolute, beyond challenge, thanks to those eyes which her grandmother and later her mother and father had given her.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield
Page Number: 190-191
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

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 a

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 offic

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:

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 n

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.

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:

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 q

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.

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,

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:

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.

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.

Part 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

Not so lonely that that old, queer, unhappy restlessness had begun again within him; that craving for some place strange and different, which at the beginning of her marriage she had had to make such strenuous efforts to repress, and which yet faintly alarmed her, though it now sprang up at gradually lessening intervals.

Related Characters: Irene Redfield, John/Jack Bellew
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

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 i

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

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.

Part 2, Chapter 1 Quotes

Brian, she was thinking, was extremely good-looking. Not, of course, pretty or effeminate; the slight irregularity of his nose saved him from the prettiness, and the rather marked heaviness of his chin saved him from the effeminacy. But he was, in a pleasant masculine way, rather handsome. And yet, wouldn’t he, perhaps, have been merely ordinarily good-looking but for the richness, the beauty of his skin, which was of an exquisitely fine texture and deep copper color?

Related Characters: Irene Redfield, Brian Redfield
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

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

It’s funny about ‘passing.’ We disapprove of it and at the same time condone it. It excites our contempt and yet we rather admire it. We shy away from it with an odd kind of revulsion, but we protect it.

Related Characters: Irene Redfield (speaker), Brian Redfield
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:

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

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.

Well, what of it? If sex isn’t a joke, what is it? And what is a joke? …The sooner and the more he learns about sex, the better for him. And most certainly if he learns that it’s a grand joke, the greatest in the world. It’ll keep him from lots of disappointments later on.

Related Characters: Brian Redfield (speaker), Irene Redfield, Brian Junior (Junior)
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

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 pariatu

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.

Part 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

Clare had come softly into the room without knocking and, before Irene could greet her, had dropped a kiss on her dark curls… Redfield had a sudden inexplicable onrush of affectionate feeling. Reaching out, she grasped Clare’s two hands in her own and cried with something like awe in her voice: “Dear God! But aren’t you lovely Clare!”

Related Characters: Irene Redfield (speaker), Clare Kendry / Bellew
Page Number: 224-225
Explanation and Analysis:

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 cillu

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.

Irene…had the same thought that she had had two years ago on the roof of the Drayton, that Clare Kendry was just a shade too good-looking. Her tone was on the edge of irony as she said: “You mean because so many other white people go?”

Related Characters: Irene Redfield (speaker), Clare Kendry / Bellew
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

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 deserun

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.

You didn’t tell him you were colored, so he’s got no way of knowing about this hankering of yours after Negroes, or that it galls you to fury to hear them called niggers and black devils. As far as I can see, you’ll just have to endure some things and give up others. As we’ve said before, everything must be paid for.

Related Characters: Irene Redfield (speaker), Clare Kendry / Bellew, John/Jack Bellew
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:

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 pariatu

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.

Part 2, Chapter 3 Quotes

She…let her gaze wander over the bright crowd below. Young men, old men, white men, black men; youthful women, older women, pink women, golden women; fat men, thin men, tall men, short men; stout women, slim women, stately women, small women moved by.

Related Characters: Irene Redfield
Page Number: 234-235
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

I think what they feel is—well, a kind of emotional excitement. You know, the sort of thing you feel in the presence of something strange, and even, perhaps, a bit repugnant to you; something so different that it’s really at the opposite end of the pole from all your accustomed notions of beauty.

Related Characters: Irene Redfield (speaker), Clare Kendry / Bellew, Hugh Wentworth
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:

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 fugia

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.

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.

Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

“Children aren’t everything…There are other things in the world, though I admit some people don’t seem to suspect it.” And she laughed, more, it seemed, at some secret joke of her own that at her words.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew (speaker), Irene Redfield, Margery
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

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.

Part 3, Chapter 1 Quotes

Brian. What did it mean? How would it affect her and the boys? The boys! She had a surge of relief. It ebbed, vanished. A feeling of absolute unimportance followed. Actually, she didn’t count. She was, to him, only the mother of his sons. That was all. Alone she was nothing. Worse. An obstacle.

Related Characters: Irene Redfield, Brian Redfield, Brian Junior (Junior), Theodore (Ted)
Page Number: 254
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

Did you notice that cup…It was the ugliest thing that your ancestors, the charming Confederates, ever owned…What I’m coming to is the fact that I’ve never figured out a way of getting rid of it until about five minutes ago. I had an inspiration. I had only to break it, and I was rid of it forever. So simple!

Related Characters: Irene Redfield (speaker), Clare Kendry / Bellew, Brian Redfield, Hugh Wentworth
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

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.

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.

Part 3, Chapter 2 Quotes

She was caught between two allegiances, different, yet the same. Herself. Her race. Race! The thing that bound and suffocated her…Irene Redfield wished, for the first time in her life, that she had not been born a Negro. For the first time she suffered and rebelled because she was unable to disregard the burden of race. It was, she cried silently, enough to suffer as a woman, an individual, on one’s own account, without having to suffer for the race as well.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

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.

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,

Part 3, Chapter 3 Quotes

Above everything else she had wanted, had striven, to keep undisturbed the pleasant routine of her life. And now Clare Kendry had come into it, and with her the menace of impermanence.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:

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.

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 m

Part 3, Chapter 4 Quotes

“I want their childhood to be happy and as free from the knowledge of such things as it possibly can be”….

“You know as well as I do, Irene, that it can’t. What was the use of our trying to keep them from learning the word ‘nigger’ and its connotation? They found out, didn’t they? And how? Because somebody called Junior a dirty nigger.”

Related Characters: Irene Redfield (speaker), Brian Redfield (speaker), Brian Junior (Junior), Theodore (Ted)
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:

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 an

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.

Drearily she rose from her chair and went upstairs to set about the business of dressing to go out when she would far rather have remained at home. During the process she wondered, for the hundredth time, why she hadn’t told Brian about herself and Felise running into Bellew the day before, and for the hundredth time she turned away from acknowledging to herself the real reason for keeping back the information.

Related Characters: Clare Kendry / Bellew, Irene Redfield, Brian Redfield, Felise Freeland
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:

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 cupi

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.

Security. Was it just a word? If not, then was it only by the sacrifice of other things, happiness, love, or some wild ecstasy that she had never known, that it could be obtained? And did too much striving, too much faith in safety and permanence, unfit one for these other things? Irene didn’t know, couldn’t decide, though for a long time she sat questioning and trying to understand. Yet all the while, in spite of her searchings and feeling of frustration, she was aware that, to her, security was the most important and desired thing in life.

Related Characters: Irene Redfield
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:

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

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.

Get the entire Passing LitChart as a printable PDF.
Passing.pdf.medium

Irene Redfield Character Timeline in Passing

The timeline below shows where the character Irene Redfield appears in Passing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Passing opens with Irene Redfield finding a letter in her mail stack written in purple ink on Italian paper,... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
As Irene looks at the letter, she imagines Clare as she knew her when she was a... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene then remembers the day Bob died in a saloon fight, when Clare was fifteen years... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene, returning her attention to the letter, opens the envelope and begins to read. The letter... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
In Irene’s flashback to “that time in Chicago,” she remembers the day being very hot. Irene is... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
As a crowd gathers around the man, Irene withdraws from the mass of people. She fans herself, then realizes that she is about... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene sits at a table near the window. When her iced tea arrives, Irene enjoys it... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
However, contrary to Irene’s expectations, only the woman sits down, and the man says goodbye to her and leaves.... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
The waiter returns with the woman’s order, and Irene watches the woman prepare to eat the melon she asked for. Irene realizes that she... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Suddenly, Irene worries that the woman has realized that Irene is a black woman sipping tea in... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene returns the woman’s gaze again, thinking this time that it does not seem hostile. Suddenly,... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene continues to search her brain for the woman’s identity, and notices that her failure to... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene then remembers that, after her father died, Clare went to live with family in a... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Though her father did not tell Irene much, Irene suspects that there was more to the story. She later heard many rumors... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene expresses her surprise at seeing Clare, who says she is not, in fact, surprised to... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Irene defends herself for having not thought of Clare, telling Clare that, like everyone, she is... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Clare tells Irene that it was these rejections that made her decide not to go back to the... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Clare then asks Irene to tell her about her life, and if she is married. They talk for an... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
When the clock strikes the hour, Irene jumps up and says she must go. Irene remembers that she has not asked Clare... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Clare begs Irene not to go, and asks to see her again, saying she will be in Chicago... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene then impulsively invites Clare to go to Idlewild (a lake resort that, unlike most 1920s... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene has the feeling that Clare is mocking her, but is not sure why. But she... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Still, Irene does not leave. She is curious about Clare’s life, and her choice to pass in... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene is shocked that Clare has not had to explain her background, and Clare seems amused... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...and harbored racist ideas about black people that they justified with Bible stories. Clare tells Irene that it was hard for her, but that they provided for her materially and gave... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare describes her determination to get away from her aunts. Clare then tells Irene that when she went back to visit their neighborhood, she was jealous of everyone who... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...Side in order to spend time with John, and then eloped with and married him. Irene asks why Clare’s aunts did not tell Irene’s father that she was married, mentioning that... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Clare gets teary at the idea of Irene’s father asking about her, and explains that she didn’t tell her aunts why she had... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare returns to the subject of passing, asking Irene if she ever thought about trying to join white society. Irene says no in a... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
As Irene observes Clare, fascinated by her choices, she thinks that Clare has always had a somewhat... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare asks if Irene can see her on Monday or Tuesday, and Irene tells Clare that she is busy... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
After Irene is away from the Drayton and on her way back to her father’s house, she... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene climbs the steps to her father’s house, thinking about what her father’s reaction will be... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Tuesday comes around, and the weather is cloudy and foggy, which Irene sees as another reason why she should not go see Clare. Clare rings Irene’s telephone... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene tries to tell Clare she cannot see her, but Clare begs Irene to come have... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
When Irene arrives at Clare’s place, Clare greets her with a kiss, and smilingly tells her how... (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 white man. Unlike Clare, however, Gertrude’s... (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... (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... (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... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
...children because she 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... (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.... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
...black people think too 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... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Clare is embarrassed, and backpedals, but then says she is surprised Irene would have expected them to think of that. The conversation gets tense. Meanwhile, Gertrude is... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene is about to leave when Clare’s husband John arrives. Irene observes his appearance as he... (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. John laughingly... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
...ancestry. John insists that it would, saying he will have “no niggers in [his] family.” Irene fights the urge to laugh, grabs a cigarette, and makes eye contact with Clare. The... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene asks John if he dislikes black people, and John responds that he and Clare both... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
Gertrude makes a noise, and Irene cannot tell whether it is a giggle or a snort. The room is silent and... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene is still furious, but out of allegiance to Clare, she tries to collect herself, and... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...and asks Gertrude about her life in Chicago. As they discuss Chicago and New York, Irene is astonished by the fact that she, Clare, and Gertrude are sitting with John and... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare offers Irene more tea, but Irene refuses and says she must go. Everyone stands up, and John... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
...street, Gertrude exclaims that Clare must be crazy to be living in that situation, and Irene agrees that it seems risky. Gertrude says she would never have married her own white... (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... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
The next morning, the day Irene is to leave from Chicago for New York, she receives a letter from Clare. She... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene, however, cannot quell her curiosity and so reads the letter on the train home from... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
The letter does not assuage Irene’s anger or embarrassment about the meeting and John’s racism. Irene tears the letter into little... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Afterward, Irene thinks she will never see Clare again, and that if she does, she will ignore... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
The narrator returns to Irene at present, in her home in New York, holding the second letter she has received... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene vows not to repeat the day in Chicago, which was so humiliating and hurtful to... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene wonders why, during their tea in Chicago, she did not reveal to John that she... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
As she pulls on her stockings, Irene swears to herself not to indulge Clare. Irene’s husband Brian walks into the room, jokingly... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene finishes getting ready while Brian reads the letter. She fixes her hair in the mirror... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Brian looks up from the letter and asks if Clare is the same girl that Irene saw in Chicago last time she was there (clearly, Irene has told him about the... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...dining room, where their housekeeper Zulena has laid out breakfast. As they eat, Brian tells Irene that she misunderstood his question as an aggressive one, and explains that he just wanted... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
...a humorous side, since they all knew what was going on and John didn’t, but Irene says she “can’t see it.” She tells Brian she will write to Clare that day... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene then expresses surprise that Clare wants to spend time with her at all, given John’s... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Zulena brings them toast, and Irene comments on the ambiguous attitude that the black community has toward “passing.” She suggests that... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene changes the subject, asking Brian if he would do her a favor and take her... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
As Brian puts his hat on in the hall, Irene thinks that Brian’s moodiness about his job is unfair, because he seems to be blaming... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene worries briefly that she actually does not know Brian very well, but then backtracks, assuring... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
In the car, as Brian drives, Irene tells Brian she has been wanting to talk to him about something. Brian prompts Irene... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Brian asks Irene if she means ideas about sex, and Irene tells him yes, that Junior has picked... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene does not respond, and when they reach the print shop, she gets out and slams... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene, alone, ponders how she will pin Brian down. Her plan had been to suggest sending... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Five days after Irene has received Clare’s second letter, she still has not replied. Irene notices that Clare has... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene later decides that it is better anyway to not answer Clare’s letter, thinking that Clare... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
The narrative fast-forwards to the middle of October. It is cold, and Irene is burning a fire in her room. Her boys, Junior and Ted, play upstairs. Irene... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Since her first attempt to pacify Brian with the botched boarding school trip offer, Irene has become depressed. She worries that Brian will suddenly decide it is not worth it... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Irene stops and listens to Zulena answering the door, walking up the steps, and then knocking... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Clare enters the room without knocking and kisses Irene on the head. Irene feels a sudden rush of affection for her, reaches out to... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
Irene tells Clare that she did not respond because she does not think Clare should risk... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare becomes irritated, and tells Irene emphatically that she does not care about being safe. Irene sits down and tells Clare... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene puts out her cigarette, feeling resentful, but her voice sounds pitying as she expresses sympathy... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene tells Clare that no one is completely safe, happy, or free, and Clare points out... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Zulena appears in the doorway and tells Irene that the telephone is for her, and that Hugh Wentworth is on the other end.... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare asks why they come, and Irene says that some come for the reason Clare is there (to “see Negros”) while others... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...becomes upset and curses John, saying that she expects she will kill him one day. Irene dryly says that there’s still capital punishment, and reminds Clare that she is mostly to... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene then invites Clare to meet her sons, and together they go upstairs. Clare stands in... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Clare leaves, and Brian calls Irene to tell her he will be home late. Irene is angry that she gave into... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
The narrator opens this section by saying that Irene’s memories of the dance afterward seem unimportant to her. From this frame of retrospect, the... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
The next memory is Irene coming downstairs just before the dance to find Clare standing in the living room with... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
In the car, Clare expresses her excitement, which annoys Irene. Once they are at the dance, Irene watches Clare dance with both white and black... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene turns to Hugh and recites a nursery rhyme that speaks to the diversity of the... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...white women in the room, including his own wife, Bianca, are dancing with black men. Irene counters that it must be because black men are better dancers than white men. Hugh... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Irene says that she does not find Ralph especially handsome, and argues that she thinks the... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
...is a perfect example, implying that she might not be as white as she appears. Irene laughs and tells Hugh that he is clever, and asks what he thinks. Hugh says... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene tells Hugh about a woman, Dorothy Thompkins, that she met several times before realizing she... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
At the end of the dance, Brian offers to drop Irene off first and then take Clare home. Irene tells him he does not have to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Though the dance does not stand out in many respects in Irene’s mind, it does mark the beginning of her friendship with Clare. After the dance, Clare... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Still, Irene does not request that Clare stop coming. Brian seems to tolerate Clare with amusement, and... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Clare sometimes attends social events with Irene and Brian, and occasionally goes with Brian alone if Irene is busy. Clare dines at... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
...The idea of going back upsets Clare, but she feels there is no way out. Irene tries to pacify Clare, reminding her that she will be happy to see Margery after... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare changes her tone and agrees with Irene, apologizing for poking fun at her. Clare reaches out and squeezes Irene’s hand, and tells... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
The narrator begins this section by describing the unseasonably warm December weather. Irene is on her way home, wishing that the season were colder, so that it would... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene asks Zulena and Sadie if there is anything to be done before guests arrive for... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene naps, exhausted from many sleepless nights of worrying. She wakes up to Brian standing next... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
Irene objects to and is surprised by Brian’s comment. Brian says that Hugh has a godly... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Irene lays out the clothes she is going to wear and then sits at her dressing... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene says no, but that she’s intelligent enough “in a purely feminine way.” Brian sees this... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
After a moment of silence, Brian admits to having invited Clare to the party. Irene is furious, and as she speaks, her voice has a strange edge to it. She... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene completely changes her tune and tells Brian she is glad that Clare is coming. Brian... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene heads downstairs, where she happily busies herself with entertaining the tea guests so she does... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene thinks this is like so many other parties she has hosted, but also so unlike... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Instead, Irene makes small talk with Felise Freeland. Felise notes that Irene looks strained, and asks what... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Felise, before leaving her, comments that Clare looks stunning. Irene agrees, and takes in Clare’s fine clothes. Irene spots Hugh across the room near the... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene makes social plans with the party guests, but feels apathetic and tired. She eavesdrops on... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene thinks again about the possibility that Brian and Clare are sleeping together, and wonders what... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene, enraged at this thought, drops her teacup (whether intentionally or unintentionally it is unclear). It... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Irene says that, instead, she broke the cup on purpose because she thinks it is ugly.... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene makes small talk with Clare, which the narrator tells using only conversation fragments spoken by... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Although in the previous section Irene thinks that she can live with Brian and Clare’s (unsubstantiated) affair, and it does not... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Still, Irene remembers, she has no real evidence of this alleged affair, only suspicion. Irene tries to... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Christmas comes and goes, and Irene is happy that it was so busy, because it kept her from thinking too much... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene tells herself that Brian’s behavior is not necessarily because of Clare, but she wishes it... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene entertains the idea of telling John that Clare is black in order to get Clare... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
The next day, coincidentally, Irene runs into John on the street. It is a cold day and Irene is with... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Felise dryly asks Irene if she has been passing, and says that her presence revealed Irene’s secret. Irene solemnly... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Felise becomes distracted by a coat she admires. Meanwhile, Irene thinks about the fact that, if she had introduced John to Felise, John might realize... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Irene wonders if she should tell Clare that she has run into John, since, although Irene... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Still, Irene plans to tell Brian about running into John. But that evening, each time she has... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene hears the door open downstairs and knows Brian has gone out. She feels like she... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
The next day, Irene eats breakfast with Brian in near silence. Then she watches the snow falling out the... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
After a slow day, Brian, Irene, and their children eat dinner together. Brian tells Irene about a lynching he read about... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
...Ted asks why they hate black people, Brian explains that they are afraid of them. Irene tries to cut Brian off, and Brian tells Ted that he will tell him about... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Once the boys have gone back upstairs, Irene tells Brian that she wishes he would not talk about lynching in front of Ted... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Brian, however, thinks this is impossible. He reminds Irene of how they tried to keep their children from learning the word “nigger,” and then... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene asks rhetorically if it is stupid to want her children to be happy. Brian asserts... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene sits shivering alone in the dining room, wondering what Brian meant when he said “don’t... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Clare arrives at the house, looking beautiful, while Irene is still getting dressed. Clare kisses Irene on the shoulder and Irene shrinks away from... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene, feeling guilty, covers her eyes with her hand so she does not have to look... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene is determined not to reveal her thoughts and worries to Clare. She tells Clare to... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
At this point, Irene acknowledges that she is completely certain that Clare and Brian are having an affair, and... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Irene feels relieved to have realized this, and returns to plotting how she can achieve that... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Regardless, though, Irene is resolved that she will make sure Brian stays with her, despite the fact that... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
After a page break, Brian, Clare, and Irene are arriving at the party at the Freelands’. Brian asks Clare if she has ever... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Clare asks why Felise lives on the sixth floor, and Irene responds that Felise says it discourages visitors. They discuss Felise’s choice and the apartment’s garden... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
...describing how Dave and Felise are excellent hosts, Brian is witty (even biting, according to Irene), and Ralph Hazelton is an excellent conversationalist. Irene, however, is not happy. Someone asks Irene... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene asks if she can open a window, because the room is hot. She does so.... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
The doorbell rings, and Felise answers it. Irene then hears John Bellew’s voice, and Felise responds that John’s wife is not there. John... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Clare stands by the window, surprisingly composed and smiling slightly. Her smile infuriates Irene, who runs across the room and touches Clare’s arm. She desperately thinks that Clare cannot... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Everyone except Irene rushes downstairs. Irene sits down and processes the fact that Clare has fallen out the... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene wonders if she should have stayed so long upstairs, or if she should rejoin the... (full context)
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Irene wonders what she will say once she gets to the bottom, and worries she will... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
Dave announces that Irene is there, and says that they had all concluded that she had fainted. Felise leans... (full context)