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Irene is a woman of mixed race who lives in a black society. Clare, her friend, is also a woman of mixed race, but Clare "passes" as a white woman. Clare's husband does not know that she is actually part black.
Irene receives a letter from Clare saying that she is unhappy and that "passing" is not the best thing for her. Her thoughts come from the fact that Clare's husband is extremely racist towards black people and she no longer wants to be with a man like that.
After spending time in Irene's black society, Clare decides that she will leave her husband and will admit to being black and move to a black society. She would have done this, but she is killed by Irene, who pushes her out of a window. Throughout the novel, the occurring theme is trying to fit in with the racial identity. For a long time Clare thought she was meant to be white but realizes that is not true. Racial oppression is another theme because Clare was afraid to admit to being black because of the judgement of white people.
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