Desiree's Baby by Kate Chopin
Desiree's Baby is a short story written by Kate Chopin. It is set in
19th century Louisiana. The story starts with Madame ValmondÃ© going to
visit DesirÃ©e and her baby. She thinks back on her memories of DÃ©sirÃ©e
as a baby:
"It made her laugh to think of DÃ©sirÃ©e with a baby.
Why it seemed but yesterday that DesirÃ©e was little
more than a baby herself."
This quote tells us two things. The first is that Madame ValmondÃ© must
have known DÃ©sirÃ©e as a child and is either a close family friend of
even a member of the family herself. The second thing is that DÃ©sirÃ©e
is young. The word "baby" could either mean childlike or physically
young. DÃ©sirÃ©e seemed to be a normal child and had had a normal
childhood. The third paragraph tells us more about DesirÃ©e's
"She had been purposely left by a band of passing
This makes us think that she he had been abandoned at a very young age
outside Madame ValmondÃ©Â´s home. We can also tell from paragraph five
"She was nameless."
No one knew what her name was or what her family background was like.
It was all a rumour.
Eighteen years after this, Armand Aubigny fell in love with DÃ©sirÃ©e.
From the fifth paragraph of the first page we can tell that Armand was
very proud of his family name.
"What did it matter about a name when he could give
her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana?"
This is a very old fashioned point of view. To Armand, his name was
everything. There is a very strong social contrast between the
nameless DÃ©sirÃ©e and Armand.
Signs of racism become apparent in the book on page 67:
"Young AubignyÂ´s rule was a strict one, too, and under
it his Negroes had forgotten how to be happy."
Armand must have treated them very harshly and made them unhappy. His
home is described as being sad looking and quite dreary.
The second paragraph of page 67 gives the reader a description of the
type of home Armand owns. There are muslins, a couch decorated with
laces, there are also slaves. Madame ValmondÃ©Â´s first reaction to the
baby was one of shock and astonishment:
"This is not the baby!"
Theoretically this isn't very significant because babies tend to grow
very quickly and their outward appearance can change very fast. The
eighth paragraph on this page gives us a hint at why Madame ValmondÃ©
was so startled when she first saw the baby.
"Madame ValmondÃ© had never removed her eyes from the
child. She lifted it and walked with it over to the window
that was lightest. She scanned the baby narrowly, then
looked as searchingly at Zandrine, whose face was turned
to gaze across the fields."
This is a very important point. Madame ValmondÃ© has noticed something
different about the baby. The fact that she didn't take her eyes off