Passing

John/Jack Bellew Character Analysis

John or Jack Bellew is Clare’s husband. John, like Clare, is charming and sociable. He is also a white man and a virulent, violent racist. John does not know that Clare has black ancestry, and he frequently uses racial slurs around her and even to address her. When John meets Gertrude and Irene the first time at a tea party with Clare, he does not realize they are black. John travels often for business, and so does not realize that Clare is spending time in Harlem with Irene and other members of the black community. After John runs into Irene on the street with Felise and realizes that Irene is black, he becomes suspicious of Clare. In the final scene of the book, John bursts into the party at the Freeland’s apartment to confront Clare about her deception, and she falls or is pushed out of the sixth-story window to her death not long after.

John/Jack Bellew Quotes in Passing

The Passing quotes below are all either spoken by John/Jack Bellew or refer to John/Jack Bellew. 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

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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Oh no Nig…nothing like that with me. I know you’re no nigger, so it’s all right. You can get as black as you please as far as I’m concerned, since I know you’re no nigger. I draw the line at that. No niggers in my family. Never have been and never will be.

Related Characters: John/Jack Bellew (speaker), Clare Kendry / Bellew
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.

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:

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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

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

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.

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John/Jack Bellew Character Timeline in Passing

The timeline below shows where the character John/Jack Bellew appears in Passing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
...a month. Clare asks if Irene will come to dinner with Clare and her husband John that night. Irene declines, saying her schedule is full. Clare then invites her to tea,... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare then talks about meeting her rich white husband, John, and how her aunt’s shame about her lineage helped her keep her race secret from... (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...she didn’t tell her aunts why she had disappeared so that they could never tell John about her black heritage. Clare says that they probably assumed she was “living in sin,”... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...to meet her daughter, because Margery is staying with friends, but says that her husband John will be back soon. (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 walks in, noticing he is not the same... (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... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Clare pours tea for John and asks him if it would matter to him, after their long marriage, if she... (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 hate them,... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
...anything because she knows it would be dangerous for Clare. Clare gently tries to steer John away from the subject, saying it will bore them, and John apologizes and asks about... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...they calmly discuss Irene’s life in New York, and Irene’s husband’s work as a doctor. John jokingly comments that it must be hard for Irene, since her husband must have so... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
John begins to comment nastily on the fact that there are lots of black people in... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...Irene more tea, but Irene refuses and says she must go. Everyone stands up, and John asks Irene how she likes the Drayton, believing that she is staying in the hotel.... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
...interaction made them, and Gertrude expresses her frustration that Clare did not warn them of John’s vitriolic racism. Irene points out that not telling them is something Clare would do, commenting... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
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 pieces and then drops the pieces over the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...retain her connections to the black community, she should have thought of that before marrying John. Irene also finds the style of the letter too “lavish.” (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 is black and stand up for herself in the face of John’s racism.... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...she would not be so stupid as to put herself in the same room as John Bellew so that he can call her a “nigger” again. (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...to make sure that Irene would not let Clare bother her. He reminds Irene that John did not exactly call Irene a “nigger,” but rather said it around her, and says... (full context)
Humor Theme Icon
...the story has 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... (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 terrifying racism. Brian cuts her off, saying that he has seen people pass before, and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
Humor Theme Icon
...she does not think Clare should risk being caught associating with black people because of John. Clare laughs, and tells Irene she hasn’t changed. Irene insists that it is too dangerous.... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...safe idea for either of them. Clare tells Irene that she should have known that John was the reason that Irene is angry with her. Clare tells Irene that she doesn’t... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
...world. Irene proceeds to talk about the terrible things that could happen to Margery if John ever found out that Clare was black. (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Irene suggests that a friend of John’s might be there, and Clare laughs in response, saying they needn’t worry about that. Irene... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Clare becomes upset and curses John, saying that she expects she will kill him one day. Irene dryly says that there’s... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
Beauty and Race Theme Icon
...and liked in the Redfields’ social circles. Her visits are sporadic because they depend on John being absent on business. Irene, though, has stopped worrying so much about Clare being discovered. (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
Margery, meanwhile, is already back in Switzerland for school, and Clare and John plan on returning there in the spring. The idea of going back upsets Clare, but... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...they are having an affair, Brian would not leave her because of their children and John Bellew. Yet despite her reassurances to herself, Irene continues to worry. (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...Brian and Clare. Irene is also happy that Clare has not been around much because John was home for the holiday. Brian, meanwhile, is withdrawn and sullen. Though his habits have... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
...that day come sooner—even, she thinks, if it involves Margery getting sick or dying, or John discovering Clare’s black ancestry. (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 out of her life. However, Irene... (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 Felise Freeland downtown.... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Humor Theme Icon
...before to get into restaurants and cinemas, never in social situations, except in front of John. Felise asks Irene to tell her the story behind it, but Irene insists she cannot. (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
...a coat she admires. Meanwhile, Irene thinks about the fact that, if she had introduced John to Felise, John might realize that Clare has been spending time in Harlem and take... (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 did not betray Clare, he still might be suspicious. However, Irene convinces... (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 the opportunity to say something to him, Irene... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...Zulena to take a message, and continues to stare out the window. She wonders if John has confronted Clare about running into Irene on the street, and if Clare is calling... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...she gets ready, she wonders again why she did not tell Brian about running into John, and the narrator notes that she will not admit to herself the real reason. (full context)
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...Irene on the shoulder and Irene shrinks away from her touch. Clare tells Irene that John is unexpectedly in Philadelphia, which is why she ended up being able to come to... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...then asks Clare if she has thought about what it would mean for her if John ever found out the truth. Clare says “yes,” and smiles. Clare’s response fills Irene with... (full context)
Motherhood, Security, and Freedom Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...lose him completely. Irene realizes that she has withheld the fact that she ran into John for fear that Clare would leave John and then “anything might happen.” Irene pauses her... (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 yells that she... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...the room and touches Clare’s arm. She desperately thinks that Clare cannot be free of John. John meanwhile, is speechless. The next thing Irene knows, Clare is gone, and, later, Irene... (full context)
Passing, Black Identity, and Race Theme Icon
Sex, Sexuality, and Jealousy Theme Icon
...man) asks Irene if she is sure Clare fell, or if it is possible that John pushed her. Irene notices that Bellew is absent from the scene. Irene insists that John... (full context)