Desiree Baby Essay
''Desiree's Baby,'' is a short story written in the late 19th century by writer Kate Chopin. published in her collection A Night in Acadie in 1897. A widely acclaimed, frequently anthologized story, it is set in antebellum New Orleans and deals with slavery, the Southern social system, Creole culture, and the ambiguity of racial identity. Kate Chopin wrote the short story, ''Désirée's Baby,'' in 1892, 27 years after slavery in America was abolished. This story is set during the time of slavery on a Louisiana plantation, exploring the role of racism in every facet of society.
Désirée and her husband, Armand, are happily married. So content is Armand that he has stopped mistreating his slaves. But when Désirée gives birth to a child who is obviously of mixed racial ancestry, Armand forces her and the child into exile and to a tragic end and becomes more brutal toward his slaves. Only later does Armand discover that it is his ancestry, and not Désirée’s, that is mixed. This story is told by a third person narrator, a strategy which allows the reader to learn small but important pieces of information from the past. The protagonist, Désirée, was an abandoned child taken in by wealthy land-owners. The wealthy land-owners were Monsieur and Madame Valmondé, who raised Désirée as their own. At eighteen, Désirée marries Armand, the current owner of a nearby estate called L'Abri (French word for shelter), who falls deeply in love with her. Armand has a reputation for his strict personality and for mistreating his slaves.
The young newlyweds, living at L'Abri, soon produce a baby boy, who becomes their pride and joy for the first few months of his life. When Armand is madly in love with Désirée, nothing can touch their happiness. During this brief interlude, Armand becomes notably kinder to his slaves, treating them with understanding and tolerance. Unfortunately, there is something not quite right about the baby. When Madame Valmondé comes to visit her daughter and grandson, she sees that something is amiss. In fact, she declares aloud, ''This is not the baby!''
In a later incident, a slave boy of one-quarter black background is tending the baby. Désirée watches the two, and suddenly realizes what she is seeing. Her own heritage is unknown, and the young mother now believes that she must have African-American ancestry, which has been passed on to her baby. In the society in which she lives, this discovery is intolerable. Désirée willingly shares her fear with Armand, who has recently been acting distant and often absent from home. When questioned about the baby, Armand coldly informs his wife that the baby is not white. Furthermore, that she is not white. Poor Désirée has trouble denying this charge, as neither she nor her adoptive parents know anything about her true heritage. Madame Valmondé urges the miserable girl to come home with her baby. Her husband concurs that she should not be in his home with the statement, ''Yes, I want you to go.''
Désirée, however, does not go home, but rather takes the baby and disappears into a field, taking nothing else with her. The final confirmation of Armand's disgust with his wife and child is a bonfire he builds to destroy her clothes and possessions. To Armand's distress, while collecting Désirée's things to burn, he finds a letter from his mother to his father, revealing Armand's own mixed-race parentage. She has written, ''I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.'' Do you need more examples relevant to this topic for your essay? We have got it covered for you. Get in touch with us via our live chat portal, emails, or calls. We will provide you with instant academic solutions.
The main conflict centers around the issue Armand has about Desiree's supposed mixed racial background. His hatred for the black race runs so strong that without thinking too hard about the possibility that the child's somewhat darker complexion could have been because of him, he effectively abandons Desiree. The antebellum Louisiana setting shows how the racial hierarchy of the time has a psychological impact not only on the black slaves as a result of subjugation, abuse by their owners, and forced labor - completely stripping them of their humanity - but also how slavery affects the psychology of the white slave owner.
What we see in this story are two extremes of kinship: Monsieur and Madame Valmondé very willingly take in Desiree as a baby who they knew nothing about. There were theories among the townspeople that she was left by a party of traveling Texans, but that did not seem to make a difference for the Valmondés. They took in Desiree as she was, and it was only when Armand took a fancy to her as a grownup that Monsieur Valmondé cautioned Armand to at least consider the background of Desiree. When Desiree realized what Armand thought about their child and about her racial background, she writes a heartfelt and urgent letter to Madame Valmondé. The Madame sends back a brief reply: "My own Desiree: Come home to Valmondé; back to your mother who loves you. Come with your child." It is more than evident that regardless of all that has happened - and from the tone of Valmondé's letter it seems that she knew something like this was going to happen - Valmondé very enthusiastically tells Desiree to come home. Moreover, she tells her to bring the baby as well.
Apart from these there are various other themes and aspects in the story. From the above discussion, it is evident that in the story, the crisis of the protagonist as well as the struggle with racial identity is the central aspect of the story and the story revolves around it. There is also a play of gender and complacency in the story which shows the struggles of America with race and how race shaped identity and position in the society. Desiree’s husband spent his life in denial and that led to the tragedy of this story.
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List Of Few Topics On Desiree Baby Essay
- How does the theme of race play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of identity play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of family and inheritance play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of gender roles and expectations play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of love and romance play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of power dynamics play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of secrecy and deception play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of isolation play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of the cultural and social expectations of the time period play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of social class play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of social justice play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of the consequences of actions play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of prejudice play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of guilt and responsibility play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of loyalty play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of honor play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of appearance versus reality play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of inheritance and property play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of tradition play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of fate and destiny play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of morality play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of individual versus society play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of acceptance play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of change play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of communication play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of trust play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of self-discovery play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of loss and grief play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of control play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of power play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of human nature play a role in the story?
- How does the theme of survival play a role in the story?
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