March 29, 2012
Prof. J. Wynter
In Desiree’s Baby, Kate Chopin shows how over valuing of white race and status can destroy a relationship and a family. Race and status are intangible ideas humans make up to segregate one another and should not be valued higher than a human life, but this is not the case in "Desiree’s Baby.” Destructive behavior begins when the child is three months old; rumors of the baby’s race spark Armand’s imperious exacting nature. He notices the baby appears to be of mixed race. At first he deals with the issue by avoiding the baby and Desiree. Then one day as Desiree was watching over her child, she looked at the child, comparing his skin color to that of the slave child who was fanning the baby. Gasping with uncertainty, she notices that something is not right. In a disquieted state, Desiree says to Armand, “Look at our child. What does it mean? Tell me” (244). He replies, “It means that the child is not white; you are not white” (244). Immediately, Armand jumps to the conclusion that it is her to blame for the child’s mixed race. Desiree attempts to defend her race, but she does not have a solid argument to persuade him. Armand knows that she was adopted so there is no way to know her true race, unlike his knowledge and reputation of his own personal background. Because Armand values the white race higher than a mixed race, he cannot accept the baby or Desiree because it will ruin his reputation. In his dissatisfaction he shuns Desiree and the baby. Armand’s idea that Desiree is to blame for the mixed race of the baby will destroy her. By her appearance she knows that she is white. She only needs someone to persuade Armand, so Desiree writes to her mother. She states, “My mother, they tell me I am not white. Armand has told me that I am not white. For God’s sake tell them it is not true. You must know it is not true. I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy and live” (244)....
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