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Pot And Kettle Essay

722 words - 3 pages

Kate Chopin's Désirée's Baby is a cautionary tale, warning about the dangers of valuing human worth based on anything other than merit. In this story Armand's treatment of non-whites illustrates the prevailing hypocritical, sentiment of many whites in the south, in pre-emancipation Louisiana. This is best observed in the level of disdain that Armand holds for his enslaved blacks, his wife & child, and finally himself.
Armand is a white slave owner, proud of his race. The range of interactions with his enslaved blacks vary wildly based on his emotional state. "Young Aubigny’s rule was a strict one...his negroes had forgotten how to be gay, as they had been during the old master’s" (paragraph 6) This excerpt shows his original stance is a harsh one, and he feels it is appropriate to treat the enslaved based on the belief that they have very little worth. As the story continues, he begins to treat the enslaved with more leniency, not because of an increase in the perceived worth of the blacks but because of a personal joy in his life. Désirée relates that "he hasn’t punished one of them...since baby is born. Even Négrillon, who pretended to have burnt his leg that he might rest from work—he only laughed, and said Négrillon was a great scamp." (para 14)
Armand is a white man, proud of his name. Armand's perception of value being based on race extends to his wife and child. He was head-over-heels in love with Désirée when he believed her to be white. "The passion that awoke in him...swept along like an avalanche, or like a prairie fire, or like anything that drives headlong over all obstacles" (para 4) All obstacles except race apparently. This love for her was clearly not based on anything strong enough to overcome the mistaken notion of her black lineage. "he no longer loved her, because of the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and his name" (para 32) Armand experiences cognitive dissonance in that; either Désirée was worthy of his love and his views on the...

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