Date of publication: 2017-08-23 03:15
Madame Valmondé has not seen the baby for a month, and she shudders when she visits L’Abri because the place looks so sad without a woman to oversee the Aubigny household. Armand’s mother had loved France too much to leave the country and had lived and died in France, and no woman has since taken over. Meanwhile, Armand is strict with his workers, and L’Abri has lost its easygoing nature.
In addition to hinting at Armand’s family secret, Chopin hints at his cruelty toward his slaves and creates an obvious parallel between his treatment of them and of his wife, who was by the legal code of the era barely higher than property. Whereas his father is described as “easy-going and indulgent,” Armand lives too strictly by the social mores of his era and not enough by a true moral code. Despite her name, Désirée is only desired insofar as his standards are exceeded, and when he burns their wedding corbeille, it is the physical manifestation of the destruction of their wedding vows, in which he presumably would have promised to cherish and care for her until death. In this manner, his seemingly ardent love shows itself to be shallow and undeserving.
Kate Chopin's Short Stories essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Kate Chopin's Short Stories.
6. According to the critic Wai-chee Dimock, the racial injustice in "Desiree's Baby" is "only a necessary background against which Chopin stages her dramatic irony. The injustice here is not the injustice of racial oppression but the injustice of a wrongly attributed racial identity." Agree with this interpretation of the story.
When Madame Valmondé sees Désirée lying beside her baby, she is startled to see the baby’s appearance. Speaking in French, Désirée laughs that he has indeed grown strangely, and she remarks on his hearty cries. However, Madame Valmondé observes the child more closely and uneasily asks about Armand’s thoughts. Désirée proudly says that Armand is glad to have a son and that he has softened considerably in his treatment of the slaves since his marriage and the child’s birth. Armand is by nature imperious and exacting, but she loves him desperately, and he has not frowned since he fell in love with her.
Frightened, she watches her child until Armand enters. She asks him about the child and asks what it means, and he responds coldly that if the child is not white, then she must not be white. Desperately, she responds that she is indeed white, with brown hair, gray eyes, and white skin, but he cruelly tells her that she is as white as their mixed-race slave La Blanche, and he leaves the room.
Both Josaphine and Richards play a relatively minor role in the story. Really they kind of represent the reader. They were bystanders who, like us, would interpret the woman s response to her husband s demise as grief. They support what we.
Madame Valmondé visits L’Abri to see Désirée and her new baby, and on the way, she reminisces about when Désirée was herself a baby. Monsieur had found her asleep at the gateway of Valmondé, and when Désirée awoke, she could do little but cry for “Dada.” People believe that a passing band of Texans had abandoned her, but Madame Valmondé believes only that Providence sent her this beautiful, gentle, and affectionate child because she lacked children of her own.
When the baby is three months old, Désirée is suddenly disturbed by a subtle feeling of menace, which is marked by a general air of mystery, unannounced visits from neighbors, and a strange change in her husband’s behavior. He begins to avoid her and treat his slaves badly, and Désirée feels miserable. One afternoon, as she sits in her room, she looks at her son and at one of the one-fourth black children, who is fanning her son. The similarity between them dawns upon her, and she tells the other child to leave.
When Armand Aubigny saw Désirée standing next to the stone pillar of the gateway eighteen years later, he fell in love with her immediately, although he had known her for years since first arriving from Paris after his mother’s death. Monsieur Valmondé wanted to ensure that Désirée’s unknown origin was carefully considered, but Armand did not care because he was so much in love. He decided that if she did not have a family name, then he would give her his own, and soon they were married.
Chopin foreshadows the final revelation of Armand’s biracial descent throughout the story as she consistently associates Désirée with white imagery while emphasizing Armand’s darkness. When Désirée first appears physically within the story, she is resting in “soft white muslin and laces,” and she continues to wear “thin white garment[s]” throughout the narrative. When she asks Armand if she should go, Chopin describes her as “silent, white, [and] motionless,” and as she herself mentions, her hand is less dark than that of her husband. By contrast, Armand has a “dark, handsome face,” and consequently the reversal is not necessarily a surprise when he reads his mother’s letter and discovers the truth about the source of his son’s African blood.
Kate Chopin's Short Stories study guide contains a biography of Kate Chopin, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.