Passing persuasiveness Clare has over Irene. This idea of

Passing is a short novel that centers on two mixed women
who reunite in their adult lives and describe how they are trying to “pass” as
white to society. Clare’s motive for passing is so that she can live a
luxurious life with her white husband who is extremely racist. Whereas Irene is
trying to pass when she goes out in society, her husband Brian is fully aware
and is a black doctor. Irene and Clare’s childhoods and pasts are vague which
allows there to be room for psychoanalysis, particularly with the character
Irene and her feelings towards Clare. Through psychoanalytical criticism that
occurs in Larsen’s novel Passing build tension between Irene and Clare and it
is argued that Irene pushed Clare from the window that caused her death in
order for Irene to keep her secure life with her husband.

When Irene and Clare discuss what it means to pass as a
white woman in society. For Irene, she only tries to pass when it comes to
social outings, whereas Clare’s whole lifestyle rests on the secret that she
passes as a white woman. Before leaving Clare at the Drayton Irene remarks that
“She wished to find out about this hazardous business of “passing,” this
breaking away from all that was familiar and friendly to take one’s chance in
another environment, not entirely strange, perhaps, but certainly not entirely friendly”
(Larsen 15). Although Irene understands what passing entails, her situation
differs greatly from Clare’s because of what Clare stands to lose if her racist
husband were to do if he found out. Through their conversation of how Clare has
eluded her past from her husband in order to pass, it can be inferred that
Clare’s rough past was her motivation to live a better life, which in this case
meant a white woman’s life. After the Drayton meeting Irene tries to distance
herself from Clare, which fails due to the persuasiveness Clare has over Irene.
This idea of distancing herself from Clare could be Irene’s subconscious coming
through to protect her from whatever danger Clare could put Irene in. Although
as Clare’s present becomes more regular in Irene’s life, the tension builds and
speculations that Clare is having an affair with Brian force Irene to consider
what would happen if Clare replaced Irene. 
      When Irene runs into Jack Bellew
while out with her black friend Felise and exposes Clare’s secret, it exposes
Irene’s deep desire to remove Clare from her life so that she can keep her
stable life with Brian. Clare’s secret was meant to stay hidden in order to
protect her status, though now by chance Irene reveals her secret. From a
psychoanalytic perspective, this is exactly what Irene wanted and as Larsen
describes, “Irene was conscious of a feeling of relieved thankfulness at the
thought that she was probably rid of Clare, and without having lifted a finger
or uttered one word” (80). Though at this point Irene is considering the
possible outcomes that could occur between Jack and Clare, would he divorce
her? Her inner narration demonstrates that she would clearly do anything to
keep her life, which asks the question would she ultimately kill Clare to keep
her life? 

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Ultimately with a psychoanalytic criticism of the
mystifying moments in Larsen’s novel Passing it gives cause for Irene to kill
Clare as either an act of revenge for something that happened between the two
during their childhood, or as a means for Irene to keep her unwavering life
with her family. By examining these moments, it reveals Irene’s true feelings
towards Clare, though it will still be unknown as to what happened between the
two as children. Psychoanalytic criticism is limited in this sense that it can
only offer a variety of explanations for Irene’s feelings towards Clare and
there can never be a concrete answer. Although the above ideas give merit to
the argument that Irene caused Clare’s death. When Clare and Irene discuss the
act of “passing” there is a sense of jealousy that Irene has for Clare and her
material and social gains.