Chopin Desiree's Baby Theme

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Janice Adams
Mrs. Ericsson
AP English Language and Composition A

By conforming to the white racial purity that predominated in Southern aristocratic culture, Armand Aubigny made Desiree a victim of society. Armand’s actions throughout the story are focused on keeping his family’s name racially pure. What was considered racially pure in the pre-Civil War south? Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1824 shows that the ‘one-drop’ rule was common practice, meaning that if someone has any trace of African blood in them, they were considered black. Though the severity of the ‘one-drop’ rule would have differed throughout the Southern States depending on the location and year, for the white aristocrat any affiliation with blacks in their direct family line would have been disastrous. Not to say that they didn’t have mistresses and illegitimate children of mixed blood, but the family’s name had to remain pure. The name and pure heirs were what mattered, in order to keep the family on top. These ideas shaped Southern society, and they shaped Armand’s actions. Armand acted on his society’s racial views, and that caused Desiree to become a victim. When Armand fell for Desiree, he was a typical Southern white plantation owner in the early 1800s. A families name and lineage were important to society, and to him. When Armand was faced with Desiree’s past, he was so blinded by love that he was also blinded to her “obscure origin.” (Chopin, 31) When considering her past, her parents, her history, “Armand looked into her eyes and did not care.” (31) However, when the subject of her namelessness was brought up, Armand hesitates. “What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana?”(31) Instead of just ignoring her namelessness, Armand justifies it by saying his family is prestigious enough to cover for Desiree’s unintentional fault. In order for there to be a justification, there has to be some question about whether something...
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