Alienation in "Desiree's Baby"

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Kate Chopin's "Desiree's Baby" is a timeless portrayal of one woman's startling descent into hysteria and the societal pressures that bring on rapid and uninhibited panic. Desiree unknowingly becomes the victim of her husband's hierarchical cover-up- he puts the blame for the child's condemned skin color on Desiree when he is in fact of black descent. This forceful allegation, compounded with other accusations of not being white that presumably take place outside of the home, in effect drive Desiree and her fragile soul six feet under. Alienation rears its cruel head time and time again in this story. Madame Valmonde, Desiree's guardian and literal savior, truly loves Desiree and treats the young woman as her own daughter. She speculates, "…Desiree had been sent to her by a beneficent Providence to be the child of her affection, seeing that she was without child of the flesh…the idol of Valmonde" (141). As much as Madame adores Desiree, poignant prejudice shines, blinds, through when she lays eyes upon the baby for the first time in four weeks. Sensing its universally maligned blackness, she proclaims, "This is not the baby!" Moments later, she takes the baby to the window and holds it up in the sunlight. While most definitely not earth-shattering to Desiree by any means, her mother's actions nevertheless shape Desiree's convictions about the neighborhood's opinion towards her family. Armand Aubigny, Desiree's husband, truly destroys Desiree's spirit through his volatile demeanor and a couple of irreversible remarks. Initially, Armand is the picturesque face of a beautiful relationship, a man of "passion…swept along like an avalanche…drives headlong over all obstacles" (141). When Madame Valmonde asks Desiree what Armand thinks of the baby, she paints him as a most proud father, whose hostility towards the slaves has been weakened with each and every smile from the little one. Three months into the baby's life, the painting rots. Desiree cannot...
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