Brazil as an Escapism in Nella Larsen’s Passing

Isabel Cristina Rodrigues Ferreira, Brazil, ID CLEaR2016-310;      

Many North American scholars from different fields in the Humanities have researched about Brazil, but they are especially fond of its racial relations and miscegenation. Miscegenation has produced in Brazil a different type of racial relation compared to the one in the United States. This phenomena brought not only scholars, but also North American writers to Brazil. They addressed some of their findings or experiences to discuss the issue of mixed characters in the United States, especially during the time of segregation, when passing was an escapism to all civil rights. Nella Larsen, in Passing (1929), depicts this scenario and different ways to live under this circumstances. Some of them can pass for whites and do it to become visible in a society which values whiteness (Clare and Irene, occasionally). However, others, such as Brian, prefer to dream about a place where race is not a problem: Brazil (based on the ideas widely spread). Hence, in this paper, I want to discuss how this “passing” narrative in the North American Literature, Passing by Nella Larsen, creates an image of Brazil as an answer to American racism.

Keywords: Passing Narrative; Brazil; Racial Relations; Miscegenation.