Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby Essay

1810 words - 8 pages

In the story of “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin, there are many literary themes that can be analyzed such as love, racism, gender inequality, and miscegenation. What this analysis will focus on is primarily on the central male character, Armand Aubigny, and on his views towards racism. More specifically, what this essay will aim to prove is that Armand Aubigny looked down upon the African race to the point where he hated them. One of the biggest driving points to aid this idea is how his family name shaped his behavior and actions according to the societal normalities of his time period. Another important aspect that will be considered is his very relationship towards his slaves in how he treated them cruelly even to the point where he is described as “having the spirit of Satan” (Chopin 3). In addition to this, the reader will also see Armand’s negative reaction to being aware of the implications of his son and wife having mixed blood in where he practically disowns them. With all this culminating to Armand finding out the ugly truth that the race he had treated so horribly is actually a part of his very own blood as well.
Armand Aubigny took pride in his family name to the point where it influenced his viewpoint towards his slaves. In the story it says “What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana” (Chopin 1)? Typically in the South, the aristocratic family name meant everything in terms of identity, wealth, and power. Back in the antebellum period, segregation and slavery was accepted as it was deeply engraved in the Southern culture. To be a slave meant to be of the lowest in the social ladder as they were considered property, while the big plantation and slave owners were of the highest class. On top of all of that, these types of families would have a long lineage of white history as slave ownership was the main occupation as seen with Armand having one of the oldest family names. Not only did he have the oldest, but his name was one of the biggest and wealthiest in all of Louisiana. As a result, Armand Aubigny grew up to view his family name as his sense of pride and superiority while he saw his slaves as an inferior group of people.
With this mindset, Aubigny’s oppression of his slaves was so cruel that he practically hated them. The narrator of the story describes, “Young Aubigny’s rule was a strict one, too, and under it his negroes had forgotten how to be gay, as they have been during the old master’s easy-going and indulgent life” (Chopin 1). What is interesting to note is that under the previous owner, Monsieur Aubigny who is the father of Armand, the slaves were happy and enjoyed their master’s tolerant lifestyle. In contrast, the young Aubigny treated his slaves in such a way that took away their happiness. Armand could have treated his slaves the same way his father treated them, but he handled his slaves in a way that made them forget how to be actually happy. To make...

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