Passing Ending, Explained


‘Passing’ is a black-and-white drama movie that explores the ambiguities and challenges of racial identification by means of the tales of two fair-skinned Black ladies, Irene “Rene” Redfield and Clare Bellew. Based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel of the identical identify and directed by Rebecca Hall, the movie sees Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård, and Bill Camp in pivotal roles.

Set in Twenties New York City, the Netflix interval drama poignantly portrays the inner dilemmas that Irene and Clare face as they rekindle their friendship. Clare passes as a white lady and embraces her freedom but additionally envies Irene’s sturdy sense of Black identification and entry to the Black neighborhood. On the opposite hand, Irene longs for Clare’s free-spirited nature and rejection of societal norms. The surprising and heartbreaking ending of ‘Passing’ actually requires a better, contemplative look. Let’s dive proper in. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Passing Plot Synopsis

The movie opens with Irene visiting a toy store and on the lookout for a birthday present for her son. Afterward, at The Drayton Hotel, she runs into her childhood pal, Clare. Blonde-haired Clare is passing as a white lady. Irene asks Clare if her husband is conscious of her true identification, and Clare informs her that he isn’t. Clare then invitations Irene to her suite.

The two chat and Clare explains the tales she’s instructed to go as white. Soon, Clare’s husband, John Bellew, arrives. Believing Irene to be white, John brazenly expresses his racist ideas while Clare entertains him. John then teases Clare for “getting darker and darker” and cites the identical as the explanation for his nickname for her — “Nig.” A visibly uncomfortable Irene quickly makes her exit.

Once Irene will get again dwelling, it turns into obvious that she is joyful together with her husband, Brian, and sons, Ted and Junior. The subsequent day, Irene will get a letter from Clare and ignores it. However, Brian convinces her to open the letter and reads it out loud himself. Clare’s phrases make it apparent that she needs to remain in contact with Irene and longs for the Black tradition she deserted.

The subsequent day, Clare reveals up at Irene’s home. Irene asks her to not threat her identification and voices her anger at being compelled to go as white in entrance of John. Clare begins crying and Irene realizes her predicament. The two make up, and Clare expresses her need to go to the Negro Welfare League dance organized by Irene.

At the dance, Clare enjoys herself. Irene reveals Clare’s secret to her shut pal and author, Hugh Wentworth. The two discuss concerning the simultaneous rejection and exoticizing of Black people. Eventually, Clare turns into a daily customer of the Redfield family. She bonds with Zu, the maid, in addition to Ted and Junior. However, Irene begins to resent Clare’s carefree perspective at the same time as she enjoys her firm. On the opposite hand, Clare is impressed by Irene’s sturdy ethical code and sense of motherly and spousal obligation.

Slowly, Irene and Brian’s relationship deteriorates. The two steadily argue about whether or not or to not expose their sons to details about racial violence. One night time, at dinner, when Hugh states that Clare likes to play the sufferer, Brian aggressively defends her. Later, Brian talks to his sons concerning the lynching of John Carter, regardless of Irene’s protests. Just a few days later, Brian invitations Clare to a tea social gathering for Hugh, unaware that Irene had intentionally averted calling her. Irene watches Brian and Clare discuss and has an emotional response.

Passing Ending: How Does Clare Die?

One day, while out procuring together with her visibly Black pal named Felise, Irene runs into John. She later tries to name Clare to warn her however ditches the concept. Afterward, Brian, Irene, and Clare go to a pal’s social gathering. However, John reveals up, now conscious of Clare’s true race. As he lunges in direction of Clare in anger, Irene reaches out to guard her. In a second of chaos, Clare falls from the balcony. The police arrive, collect statements, and rule her demise as an accident. Brian comforts a traumatized Irene while John sits immobile by Clare’s physique.

Thus, Clare tragically falls to her demise. The causes for her fall are intentionally made unclear. We do see Irene making an attempt to push Clare out of John’s manner. However, simply moments earlier than, a troubled Irene had requested Clare what she would do if John discovered the reality. When Clare stated that she’d transfer into Harlem with Irene, the latter appeared visibly disturbed. So, did Irene intentionally push Clare? It is feasible that she did so to take away Clare as a risk. Did Clare let herself fall to keep away from her horrible destiny? Clare may need wished to flee John’s wrath and her future after being outed as a Black lady. Did John by chance shove her? Perhaps in his anger, he pushed her backward. Irene herself is uncertain about what occurred however is clearly harboring guilt. We consider that Irene by chance pushed Clare while making an attempt to guard her from John.

Why and How Does Clare Pass As White?

Clare passes as white in an effort to acquire security and freedom. Married to a rich white man, she will take pleasure in what the world has to supply in a manner most of her friends can not. Additionally, she will guarantee an excellent future for her fair-skinned daughter. Clare reveals that she married John on the age of 18 and instructed him about her being raised by “very white, very respectable, and very religious” aunts, leaving out details about her mother and father. By continuously preserving her hair dyed blonde to enrich her honest pores and skin, adopting the mannerisms of the white, and publicly shunning the Blacks, Clare efficiently passes as white.

Is Irene In Love With Clare?

As the movie progresses, it turns into obvious that Irene sees Clare as greater than only a pal. It could possibly be that Irene is solely drawn to Clare’s wild nature, carefree perspective, and freedom resulting from passing as white. However, in just a few scenes, we see Irene relishing Clare’s magnificence and conveying by means of gestures a need to be bodily near her. She slowly begins to focus extra on Clare than Brian. Additionally, Irene repeatedly praises Clare’s “extraordinary” appears in entrance of her husband.

Meanwhile, Clare doesn’t like ascribing to societal norms. She charms everybody together with her easygoing demeanor and enjoys being favored. She respects Irene for her inflexible sense of obligation and dependable companionship, seeing her as an emblem of the Black tradition she left behind. Clare’s presence forces Irene to ponder her personal identification — as a Black lady, spouse, and mom — and even perhaps her sexuality. The movie is clearly snug with ambiguity, highlighting how societal concepts of identification are sometimes unable to comprise the messy fact. Irene is drawn to, repelled by, and envious of Clare all of sudden.

Does Brian Cheat On Irene With Clare?

In the second half of the movie, Irene turns into satisfied that Brian is dishonest on her with Clare. She notices how he goes from mocking Clare behind her again to defending her in public. She additionally observes them steadily speaking to one another. However, it’s by no means made clear whether or not Brian and Clare are having an affair — we see solely Irene’s perspective of them. Clare is a sociable and flirtatious particular person and Brian finally warms as much as her. It is feasible that Irene feels threatened by Clare’s presence at the same time as she welcomes it.

Plus, it’s ambiguous whether or not it’s Clare or Brian that Irene is jealous of since she harbors romantic emotions for each. It appears as if Irene initiatives her personal doubts about her identification and sexuality upon Brian and Clare. Brian presents her a secure life accepted by Black cultures and society at giant. Clare presents her a dangerous, rebellious manner of embracing one’s needs. Their worldviews don’t usually match Irene’s personal. Thus, by assuming that the 2 are having an affair, Irene lets out her frustration at her personal inside dilemmas. Plus, Clare and Brian do discover consolation in one another — Clare in Brian’s agency Black masculinity, and Brian in Clare’s refreshingly fearless nature. The movie highlights that, in a method or one other, everyone seems to be passing as one thing they’re not.

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