Clare Kendry functions as a foil to Irene, making aspects of Irene’s character more apparent by contrast. Unlike Irene, Clare chooses to pass as white socially, to the extent that she has married a white man who openly hates Black people. While Irene values safety, Clare runs headlong into danger. Although it would be very dangerous for Clare if her husband and his social circle were to discover Clare’s Blackness, she introduces him to Irene and Gertrude and throws herself into the Black social world of Harlem, attending not only mixed events like the Negro Welfare League dance, but also private events at Black homes, such as Irene’s tea and the Freelands’ party. These associations put her marriage, her connection to her daughter, and potentially her life at risk. But unlike Irene, Clare values her freedom above any sense of responsibility, maternal or otherwise.  

Larsen describes Clare as catlike: selfish, emotionally cold, and sometimes vicious. Although she is given to grand declarations of gratitude, she has no allegiance to anyone but herself. Unlike Irene, Clare feels no responsibility to support or uplift her race. She takes a voyeuristic pleasure in her husband’s use of a racial slur in front of Gertrude and Irene, knowing they are Black and knowing he does not know and that they will not risk exposing her by objecting to his language. In social life, she angles invitations to parties. Her charisma and beauty draw others to her, including Irene, but at the end of the book, Larsen describes Clare’s beauty as having torn Irene’s life, a metaphor that echoes the earlier catlike comparison.