Desirees Baby Essay Research Paper SIGNIFICANCES OF

Desirees Baby Essay, Research Paper SIGNIFICANCES OF A LETTER ?Désirée?s Baby? is a story of love, prejudice and rejection, a story with noble

Desirees Baby Essay, Research Paper


story of love, prejudice and rejection, a story with noble

beginnings that slowly turns to reveal an uglier side of human

relations. Armand, a wealthy landowner of the plantation

L?Abri in the ante-bellum south of Louisiana, is confronted

by a family secret that has been hidden from him, even into

adulthood. The secret is scandalous for its day, and its

consequences run deep into the fabric of society. No one

told Armand of this secret. He discovers it by chance at the

end of the story, when he finds the remnants of an old letter

written by his mother to his father, the significance of which,

and its revelations, makes us focus on the many tragic and

ironic decisions made by him during this story. In the old

south, bloodlines are very important to the status of a family

and their social placement, so the ?purity? of the family must

be kept. This ?purity? does not accommodate marriages of

mixed race. Knowing this, Armand marries an old friend

who he had known since he was eight when he moved to

Louisiana from France with his father after his mother had

died. She was a girl of no distinction, who had no history or

reputation of family name like that of Armand, but despite

this he fell in love ?as if struck by a pistol shot?.(317).

Others had warned Armand against marrying her, but he did

not care for he was so swept away by her beauty. ?He was

reminded that she was nameless. What did it matter about a

name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest

in Louisiana.? (316). Tragedy comes early in the marriage

with the birth of their first child. Although no one seemed to

notice at first, by the time the child was three months old,

neighbors and Armand hims! elf noticed a change in the

child. ?When the baby was about three months old, Désirée

awoke one day to the conviction that there was something in

the air menacing her peace.?(317). It turns out the baby is of

mixed blood and because of this, he shuns his wife and the

child he was so proud of only days before. ?He absented

himself from home and when there, avoided her presence

and that of her child, without excuse.?(317). Armand was

?the proudest father in the parish?it is a boy to bear his

name.?(317). Additionally, he accuses Désirée of not being

white (a crime against his family?s ?purity?) which she

adamantly denies. ?It is a lie it is not true, I am white! Look

at my hair, it is brown and my eyes are gray, Armand you

know they are gray. And my skin is fair,? ?Look at my hand

whiter than yours, Armand,?(318). She writes to her

adopted mother and tells her of what is happening. Her

mother tells her to return home with the child where they will

both be loved, bu! t Désirée is so shocked and disheartened

she sets off towards a local bayou with the child never to be

seen again. Armand has made the decision to lose his family

in order to save his name and it?s too late to bring Désirée

back. The irony is that the letter read by Armand from his

mother reveals to him that it is he who is of mixed blood and

not Désirée. Placing blame on outside forces can also be a

tragic and misguided reaction to events that people

encounter. Armand makes this mistake when he can see no

other cause for his anguish and blames God for what he sees

as a cruel injustice placed upon him. ?He thought Almighty

God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him and felt,

somehow that he was paying him back in kind when he

stabbed thus into his wife?s soul (319). Ironically, in the

letter Armand finds from his mother, she is praising God for

having ?arranged? their lives so as to be married in a racist

world and to have a beautiful child such as Armand. ?But

above all, night and day, I thank the good lord 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?(319). Paradoxically, it is

also this arrangement that is the root of his present day

problems. Had he known of his ?heritage? before hand,

chances are! he would have approached life differently, but

we have to assume this was hidden from him to protect him

from the society in which he lived. Armand?s shunning of

Désirée was not only an attempt to pay back God, but by

somehow payback the others he felt were responsible for his

personal tragedy. He thought it necessary to cleanse himself

and his family name of this regretful misfortune. At the end of

the story Armand has ordered his slaves to build a large

bonfire on the grounds of the estate where he is to throw all

of Désirée?s and the baby?s affects. It is during this highly

emotionally and rash moment that Armand learns his family

secret, when he finds the letter from his mother. Here the

story ends, and its tragic irony comes to light. Lying before

him was proof that it was not Désirée who had colored

blood but him. The wife and child he loved and so easily

discarded to protect his family name, were innocent of his

animosity and accusations. We can only imagine the heart

wrenching turmoil he must have felt at that moment. Too,

was the undeniable fact that his father had overcome similar

odds and accepted the love of his mother even though she

was black. Armand?s father had escaped from tradition and

its shackles to stay with the woman he loved and yet still

kept the family?s good name, where Armand had failed to

do so. The finding of this letter reveals to the reader the

deeper consequences of decisions made based on prejudice

and what others may think. All that Armand had done, giving

up his marriage and condemning their child, burning all that

reminded him of her and the baby, cursing God for his

misfortune, had all come crashing in upon him! by finding a

simple letter with tragic ?significance