In Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin the author uses situational irony to convey the deformed consciences of the time period. In the story the reader believes Desiree leaves L’Abri plantation because she is part African American and therefore cannot be married to Armand. Even though Armand dearly loves Desiree, “The passion that awoke in him that day…swept…like anything that drives headlong over all obstacles” he forces her to leave anyway. This action shows the strength racial issues played in the lives of people during slavery times. However, the reader does not fully understand the deformation of Armand’s conscience until the end of the book when the irony is revealed. Chopin uses Armand’s situation to illuminate the deformed consciences of the time period.
Armand causes Desiree to leave his plantation because “[Desiree’s] child is not white; it means that you are not white.” This situation was known to happen during slavery times, however rare it was. If a mixed child was found the white parent would be in a great deal of trouble, so most of the time something was done to resolve the situation. Armand’s solution was for Desiree to leave the plantation, “‘Shall I go, Armand?’ ‘Yes, go.’” Although it seems this is a sad ending the reader does not fully understand Armand’s deformed conscience until the end of the story. He has a great bonfire in which he burns everything that belonged to Desiree. However, when cleaning a drawer of love letters to burn he finds one from his mother to his father which says, “our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.” Armand drives Desiree away because he believed she was part black, in reality he was the one who was part black. This irony shows how greatly deformed Armand’s conscience is.
The skillfull use of situational irony by Chopin exposes Armand’s deformed conscience. The racial hatred is so deep in his mind...