Modernism is a term that alludes to a time of the nineteenth century, as well as stays inadequate and open to what’s to come. This re-enforces the notion that a modernist trust that there is no certainty and a situation is constantly open – no finality. The city had an ordering in the plot; this plot is fixated on the structure of how the city was set out, i.e. the colour line, this colour line is crossing the border and entering the city. Thomas C. Holt states that the problem of the colour line “was, first of all, a problem of identity and difference in the modern world” (Katz & Sugrue, 1998: 61). This was problematic because people were denied access to what they have worked for and the fact that the world had been shaped by slavery. The term ‘colour-line’ is evident throughout Nella Larsen’s Passing, as we acknowledge the segregation between blacks and whites. Modernism is a complex term to define as it takes different forms which allude to the nineteenth century. In a literary context, modernism focuses on writers and artists who rebelled against the normal art form as well as storytelling. Instead many, including Ezra pound and Emily Dickinson, told fragmented stories which reflected themselves in society, as pointed out by Paul De Man: “without a past, there can be no identity or intelligibility” (Armstrong, 2005: 10). It is at this point that early modernist idealises their earlier period, making their past usable. “In modernist texts, the fluctuating line of attention, and the looping distracted walks of memory impel a new kind of narration attached to the notion of ‘stream of consciousness’ (95). In some respects, Good Morning, Midnight utilises this form of modernist writing, as Sasha is a first-person narrator whose interior monologue becomes extensive and used frequently throughout the novel. This fluctuating line of attention associates itself with the modernist stream of consciousness.”While many modernist authors seek to represent their characters’ experience by narrating their inner life to the exclusion of the outer world, Rhys uses quintessential representation of external time as a vehicle for … and it offers her readers a keen insight into her characters’ inner lives” (Johnson & Wilson, 2013: 45). Rhys depicts a woman’s struggle to survive in the modern world, against the vicious power of men, the fight against society and the battle against time. The personification of time as a vehicle structures Rhy’s narrative, as the hands of the clock move round and round, so does the life of Sasha. This cycle aligns Sasha’s relationships, which includes frantic swings, followed by a flow of depression. The circular motion is a repetition of the lack of progression and change which create a static feeling which Sasha cannot escape. Her constant moving in the narrative, which could have given her a sense of stability and belonging further complicates her troubled self. “Rhys embraces this method of accessing and depicting time” (62). She draws further into the depths of revealing her characters loss and painful details of fear, sufferance, and time. A sense of alienation that she suffers from is highlighted through this loss as well as the absence of a stable location.Nella Larsen’s Passing echoes the great themes of modernism: fragmentation, alienation, liminality and self-fashioning. We are able to identify the main protagonist’s identity through these themes as well as the social, cultural and psychological processes that she endures as she struggles with the uncertainty of her identity and the burden of no finality. Larsen positions Irene to abandon the readers at crucial points within the text, which is when Irene tries to figure out what Clare’s real intentions are. The only thing we knew about Clare was that she was eager to cross the colour line and regain her birthright. Her story is told in fragments, which are conjured up from previous encounters with Irene. Throughout Passing, Irene’s earlier attitudes manifested discomfort with Clare willingness to regain a place in the Harlem society. Yet the tension that Irene has faced in her marriage and in her life since she ran into Clare, seems to be taking a toll on her earlier loyalties. Walter Benns Michaels supports this when he says, “race becomes inescapable” (Armstrong, 2005: 145). While Clare embraced life in Harlem, Irene has wished for the first time in her life “She had not been born a negro” (Larsen, 2004: 78) and wished to avoid the community she had lived in for so long. The term liminality circulates around the theme of the novel which is ‘passing’. ‘Passing’ limits an individual to certain privileges, so that person lives a liminal experience, for example, Irene is not in the accepted community, therefore, she limits herself to the advantages she can get within the time she pretends to be a part of their world without being exposed. 

x

Hi!
I'm Katy!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out