Gender, Race and Inequality in “Desiree’s Baby”
“Desiree’s Baby” is a tragic short story written by Kate Chopin. The story is about the struggle between the main characters Armand and his wife Desiree. The relationship is torn apart after they come to the realization that they have a quadroon baby or quarter black. Neither of them know that either one could be the cause of the mixed baby. Armand sees this as a curse to his family name and disowns Desiree and the baby. After Desiree and her baby are disowned by Armand, Desiree feels she has nothing to live for. She disappears into the bayou where we can only guess she kills herself. In the end, we learn that when Armand is burning the possessions of Desiree and the baby he finds a note from his mother to his father revealing the truth. It was his mother that carried the blood of the slaves. Chopin uses the story of “Desiree’s Baby” to discuss gender, race, and the inequality between them in a time when slavery and race were mainstream issues of the day.
The main theme of the short story is inequality. Inequality is shown throughout the story not only in a racial way but in terms of gender as well. Women were considered lower than the men and were thought to be weak not strong. They did not have many rights or possessions, Armand married Desiree for her beauty and all her becoming attributes so it would add wealth to his name and home. He clearly viewed her as a possession much like the slaves he owned. The
racial inequality is perceived through the fact that Chopin decided to set the story during the time of slavery.
The setting of Desiree’s Baby takes place in a time when slavery was a way of life for many. Cotton plantations owned by the upper class white housed many African people where they were enslaved to pick the cotton. This was a time when the color of one’s skin mattered. Blacks were viewed as lower class race not worthy of placement in normal society. This...
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