Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby Essay

1479 words - 6 pages

Throughout the years many variations of the ideas on race, class, and culture have been presented based upon different factors. In earlier times people’s views were not nearly the same as they are presented today. Ideas that women belong in the kitchen or that African-American’s were an inferior race were common. Those views were very popular during the time of Kate Chopin’s book “Desiree’s Baby.” Chopin’s book explores the controversial areas of race and class as well as touching on the subject of culture. “Desiree’s Baby” shows the life of Desiree from a young child through adulthood. The young Desiree was found by a rich family alone on the streets. Even in a time where race and social class was important the wealthy, a rich couple took in young Desiree without knowing her ancestral background. Desiree lived a good life with the family. The story then switches to when Desiree was a young adult and falls in love with Armand Aubigny. Armand also comes from a wealthy background and still falls for Desiree without knowing her racial background. Eventually, the young couple has a baby but to their surprise the baby comes out with African traits. Armand is not happy and rethinks whether she has African in her background or if maybe she had an affair with a slave. Desiree’s mother offers to have her and the baby come back and stay with them but when Desiree leaves she disappears and is never seen again. Later, Armand finds out that it may not have been Desiree that carries African roots but himself, from his mother’s side. Overall, Chopin’s work looks into the controversial issues of race, class, gender and culture using ironies and the story-line to infer the views of these topics.
Chopin establishes the inferiority of African-American and the importance of race by establishing the use of slaves on Armand’s plantation and by the conflict that arises when Desiree and Armand’s son resembles African roots. Armand’s brutality to the slaves shows that the white men of that era thought they were the superior race. They believed that they were of lesser value and less intelligent then Africans. Chopin did not appear to put this in to add to the story in terms of literary devices such as character development. The reason appears to be just because the setting would not be complete without the appearance of slaves as this was a big part of wealthy life back in that era. The emphasized point of race was when Desiree and Armand’s son was born resembling that of African roots. Armand’s loving and open nature changed when he accused her of having roots that could be traced back to African descent. Even though it could be seen that she had fairer skin then him. This is where one of Chopin’s many ironies is demonstrated. At the very end of the story after it is inferred that Desiree has killed herself, Armand finds a letter from his mother, “she wrote, “night and day, I think the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that...

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