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Source: Nella Larsen’s Passing
Use close reading to make an argument about how Nella Larsen’s Passing represents race and the race line in US culture. Does it believe race is something you are born with, as the “one drop” rule would have it? Or is race something you acquire, via your community or culture? Or is it somewhere in between?
Go through the novel and select two or three interesting scenes that illustrate how the text represents the concept of race. As you begin to draft, look closely at the language of each scene and begin to uncover the implications of her word choices, figurative language, structure, and so forth. Perform a close reading of these scenes to advance an original thesis that interprets what the text wants us to believe about race, the race line, or “passing.” Use the “X/Y” thesis statement format to introduce productive contrast into your argument. (E.g. “While many people believed X about race, Larsen’s Passing argues that race is Y.”)

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