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Desiree's Baby

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by

Monica Law

on 25 March 2014

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Transcript of Desiree's Baby

(1850-1894)
Her works feature sensitive, intelligent women of Louisiana
Published 2 novels and nearly 100 short stories.
Realist
Trailer
Desiree's Baby
Work Cited
http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/DesiBaby.shtml
Central Motifs
Symbols
Desiree’s baby
- represents how something so benign and innocent can still be condemned and scathed by racism
Desiree & Armand’s relationship
- represents the fallacy that can be found in falling love at first sight. Armand does not truly love Desiree and becomes disenchanted with her once he believes that she is “tainted” by her assumed black heritage.
Historical Background
Louisiana
Takes place before American Civil War (mid-1800’s)
Written after the Civil War
A time period in which those of African descent were enslaved and discriminated against.
Aristocracy is clear.
The Author: Kate Chopin

Summary
Characters
The story takes place before the Civil War.
Desiree is an orphan who was found by the Valmondes.
She grows up and meets Armand.
They wed and have a child with a darker skin tone.
The child grows up and Armand realizes that the baby is not fully white. He assumes that Desiree is the cause of that.
He kicks her out, but soon discovers that his own mother was the one who was not fully white.

Desiree
- Adopted daughter of Madame and Monsieur Valmonde with unknown roots
Armand
- Husband of Desiree who shuns her after assuming that the baby’s black roots came from her
Madame

& Monsieur Valmonde
- Adopted parents of Desiree who find her abandoned under a pillar when she was a baby
Baby
- the infant son of Desiree and Armand who is a quarter black
Status and Reputation


Armand takes great offense at the slightest hint of Desiree's race because it takes a toll on his family's legacy.

Origins of any black blood overrides any success/power of this time period. This violates the credibility and reputation that Armand's family is supposed to possess.
Hypocrisy/ Jumping to Conclusions
When their baby developed a darker skin tone, Armand automatically blamed Desiree without even considering that he might be the one at fault.

Had the roles been reversed, Armand would have demanded the compassion he denied from his wife.

Racism
True love does not depend on race.
Armand and Madame Valmonde's reactions to the news of Desiree's supposedly black heritage directly contrast each other. Madame Valmonde's acceptance of her adopted daughter despite what many at that time considered to be a "blemish" proved that she truly loves Desiree, while Armand's disgust at the news proves that his love was merely superficial.
Themes
Armand cannot stand the possibility that Desiree may possess some black heritage and he insists on her departure.

Black lineage is viewed negatively because of societal beliefs and perceived racial superiority.
People tend to keep secrets that reflect negatively on themselves.
Since Armand's family is of African American descent, it is looked down upon. They choose to keep this fact a secret, which relates to Chopin's realist ideals.
One's reputation in society modifies his or her actions.
After Armand recognizes that his son is of black descent, he concludes that Desiree contains the bad blood. Armand's family legacy of wealth and power is challenged by Desiree and his son and has them both leave. Because Armand is in the limelight, he must measure up to a certain par.
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