The House of Mirth, Edith Whart, Passing , Nella Larsen, women identity, twentieth century, novels, psychological modernism
The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton) and Passing (Nella Larsen) are novels presenting female characters struggling to fit into the 20th century society. At the time, women were not very independent and had almost no means to earn a living. In The House of Mirth, Lily Bart's parents died and in order for her to acquire a secure place in society she has to marry for money not for love. Lily is raised to use her beauty for economic gain. Marriage is the only way for her to satisfy her material desires and ultimately belong to the society of the new rich in New York City. In the other novel, Passing, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry are two light skinned women. Both women were born African Americans but were light enough to pass as white. On the one hand, Clare passes completely and married a racist white man. On the other hand, Irene lives in Harlem and marries a black doctor.
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