Race As A Weapon In Chopin’s Désirée’s Baby

2118 words - 9 pages

The submission to the antagonistic forces of globalization and the preservation of local traditions and cultural elements in the 21st century has certainly contributed to a change in the point of view of the society. Therefore, among the most propelled ideological dimensions we find solidarity, tolerance and acceptance, which are expected to form an integral part of our world view regardless of our ethnicity as well as the ethnicity of those surrounding us.
The institutional encouragement to find out more about other ethnicities, experience different cultures and take part in various types of cultural exchange has the obvious purpose of supporting multiculturalism, the importance of which ...view middle of the document...

However, according to Wolff, ”Chopin is clearly not primarily interested in dissecting the social problem of slavery [...]; rather, she limits herself almost entirely to the personal and the interior.” That is, she does not specifically approach slavery with disagreement per se, but rather focuses on how the individuals perceive their own situation that is strongly shaped by social prejudice. Regardless of the abolition of slavery, Kate Chopin was familiar with the concept and had experience with it, given that her family held slaves in St. Louis during the 1850s, just like many other families in the city at the time. Another fact from her life that reappears in her text is that her mother was Creole, which in Chopin’s case means that she was a white person who was descendant of early French settlers of the United States. The descendants of these settlers were known to preserve their speech and culture, which we can also witness in the text in the form of the several French expressions used by the narrator and the characters alike.
In the 19th century mainland France marriages between the African and the European races were probably not frowned upon, whereas in Cajun Louisiana it was thought that the African-American races were inferior to the white ones, which was clearly demonstrated in the act of keeping slaves. This specific idea that distinguishes between the points of view of the two regions provides a base for the unlucky turn of events and the eventual destruction of Désirée and her baby.
Désirée’s husband, Armand Aubigny, who inherited his father’s plantation, considers himself to be of the superior race and his name is “one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana” . His takes pride in his heritage and is extremely cautious about keeping his name clear and pays great attention to the impression he makes in the public eye. Armand is a central character in Désirée’s life. She is eager to please his husband and is overly sensitive to his reactions, appropriating great significance to his views and opinions. Unlike his father, Armand is portrayed as a strict and prideful person and a cruel master, whose slaves “had forgotten how to be gay” . He is judgemental not only by race but by gender as well, which Désirée implicitly points out in the following quotation, making allusion to the importance of a male offspring according to the tradition and values in the 19th century Louisiana:
“Armand is the proudest father in the parish, I believe, chiefly because it is a boy, to bear his name; though he says not,—that he would have loved a girl as well. But I know it isn't true.”

His environment, the plantation of L’Abri is depicted as a place that matches his character, and it also foreshadows the events that will take place, namely the arising of the suspicion that Désirée is of the inferior race, which is perceived by Armand as an unforgivable offense as well as an ineradicable taint on his name. His harsh reaction after the baby’s mixed...

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