Explore The Theme Of Racism Within The

Story ?DÉsirÉe?s Baby?. Essay, Research Paper

p>? ?DÉsirÉe?s Baby? is a short story written by Kate Chopin.? Around the period when this story was

written, a lot of racism and prejudice was present within American

society.? The 19th century

was a difficult time for both women and blacks, due to the domination of white

men. A mixed background was not tolerated, therefore the history and background

of a person was very important, to the status of a family and their social

placement.?? Some whites that were not

racist still had to follow the common social guidelines, or else risk social

death.? ?DÉsirÉe?s Baby? displays

aspects of a mixed background and the problems it produced within the 19th

century.? Racism, within the story,

isn?t openly discussed but it is clearly covered. ? Armand Aubigny is a person of high status, who owns the L?Abri

plantation.? He is faced with a family

secret that has been hidden from him.?

However, throughout the story certain aspects can convey the fact that

Armand knew the secret all along.?

DÉsirÉe is a young woman who has been adopted by a wealthy family.? She marries Armand and has his child, but is

eventually forced to leave. ?? Knowing that a marriage of mixed race was against social

standards Armand marries a friend, DÉsirÉe, from his youth ?he had known her

since his father brought him home from Paris, a boy of eight?.? As DÉsirÉe was found and adopted, there was

no way of knowing her background ?had found her lying asleep?she was

nameless?.? Despite this Armand fell in

love with her ?fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot?, this concept of

immediate love is more likely to be infatuation.? DÉsirÉe?s background was of no concern to Armand ?Armand looked

into his eyes and did not care?What did it matter about a name?.? This is one of the aspects, which may convey

that Armand knew his family?s secret, for his was just marrying DÉsirÉe to

cover up his background, and to solve a problem.? Within the story a certain part of the text that backs up this

assumption ?Armand?s dark handsome face had not often been disfigured by frowns

since the day he fell in love with her?. ? Monsieur Aubigny is not a very racist character, for we discover

that he was married to a black woman, also he treated his slaves with

compassion and kindness ?married and buried his wife in France?Easy-going and

indulgent lifetime?.? Unlike his father

Armand is very racist, and is very strict and overpowering towards the slaves

?Young Aubigny?s rule was a strict one too?his Negroes had forgotten how to be

gay?.? This is another aspect, which may

convey the reasons of his racism; that he was simply paranoid about the truth

of his background.? However, after his

marriage and after the birth of his son, his dealings towards the slaves

changed ?softened Armand Aubigny?s imperious and exacting nature greatly?. ? At Madame ValmondÉ?s visit she instantly notices that the baby is

not purely white ?This is not the baby?She scanned the baby narrowly, then

looked as searchingly at Zandrine?.? She

did not mention anything to her daughter, I think this shows her concern and

hope for DÉsirÉe?s future.? ? It isn?t until the baby is three months old that everyone begins

to notice the change in the baby ?there was something in the air menacing her

peace?air of mystery among the blacks?visits from far-off neighbours?avoided her presence and that of her child?.? Armand, realizing his child is a quadroon

baby, he returns to his old racist self ?the very spirit of Satan seemed

suddenly to take hold of him in his dealings with the slaves?.? DÉsirÉe realizes

the truth about her baby ?she

looked from her child to the boy who stood beside him, and back again, over and

over?, no sooner then she does this, Armand confronts her.? He automatically assumes it is DÉsirÉe who

is not purely white ?the child is not white; it means that you are not

white?.? DÉsirÉe adamantly denies

Armand?s accusations ?It is a lie it is not true, I am white?Look at my hand;

whiter than yours Armand?.? To try and

prove to Armand that she is white, she writes a letter to her mother asking if

she?s white ?My mother, they tell me that I am not white?For God?s sake tell

them it is not true.? You must know it

is not true?.? Madame ValmondÉ does not

answer DÉsirÉe?s questions, her reply simply demonstrates her unconditional

love and the fact that she isn?t racist ?Come home to ValmondÉ; back to your

mother who loves you.? Come with your

child?. ? After receiving the letter she approaches Armand.? He not only displays his racism, but also

how he?d give up his wife and child to remain a person of high status within

society ?Yes, I want you to go?He no longer loved her, because of the

unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and name?.? This quote also supports my belief that

Armand was simply infatuated with DÉsirÉe, for if he was truly in love with her

he wouldn?t care if she was black or not.?

DÉsirÉe left the plantation with her baby.? She made the fateful decision that, because racism and prejudice

was present within society, there was no hope for a future for her and her

child.? This decision lead to her

suicide and to the infanticide of her baby ?She disappeared among the reeds and

willows?And she did not come back again?. ? Armand had always been dominant and in control of everything

around him, therefore he never had anything to fear.? However, now his child was a quadroon baby, he feared the chance

of social rejection.? He ordered for

everything of DÉsirÉe and the baby?s to be burnt, showing he had no plans for

having anymore children ?Great bonfire?The material which kept this fire

ablaze?A graceful cradle of willow?Last thing to go was a tiny bundle of

letters?.? During this emotional and

rash moment he discovered a letter ?It was part of an old letter from his

mother to his father?.? This letter

revealed the truth to Armand?s background ?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?.? The story comes to a close here, displaying

a very tragic irony.? The wife and child

he once loved and simply gave up, were innocent of his resentment and his

accusations.? God did enact the final

revenge on Armand, with the appearance of a simple

letter with tragic significance. ? Even though this

story never openly discusses themes of racism, there are many aspects of racism

within the story.? Overall I think that

Kate Chopin was trying to teach the reader that even though social attitudes

change, prejudice, hatred and racism will still exist within aspects of

society.???? ??


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