Desiree's Baby

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The act of racism in society today is somewhat taboo, yet it seems that we, as a society, forget that just a short time ago it was more uncommon to not practice racism. Although, perhaps it is not that we do not remember, rather it is that we are trying to right our faults as a people that preach equality but for many a century did not show any to our counterparts. In “Desiree’s Baby”, by Kate Chopin, the author emphasizes the social caste that accompanies race, associated with the time period of the setting, in order to illustrate the prominent theme of racism through the hypocrisy of Armand which leads to the destruction of Desiree and her baby, resulting in a lesson that can be applied to the society of the twenty-first century.

Throughout the short story the word “negro” is used freely to describe the workers in the field but it never capitalized in the customary form of respect, showing the reader the time period in which they find themselves. The social class of an African was non-other than that of a slave, and so they were treated as such on the property of Young Armand, contrasting the way they were treated during the rule of his father. Armand’s actions show his discontent for the race, and that he views them as less than his inferiors. With this view setting the precedent of the novel, it is no wonder that after Armand viewed the change in the baby’s skin tone there was “an awful change in [Desiree’s] husbands manner”, “he absented himself from home; and when he was there, avoided [Desiree’s] presence and that of her child”. Then when it came down to his workers it seemed “the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him”. After being confronted by his wife as to the origin of the dark skin of her child she was promptly told “it means the child is not white; it means you are not white”. Then, inquiring to whether she should leave he tells her he wants her to go, and so she does, being implied by the author that she kills her baby...
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