Desiree's Baby Analysis

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Abstract

This essay will focus on the short story by Kate Chopin and its use of symbols, setting and characters. Desiree’s baby was perhaps one of the best stories I’ve ever read. Analyzing it was not easy at all. Its use of symbols was very hard to comprehend. At first, it doesn’t make sense. But as you think critically, all the symbols, and setting and the characters in this literature plunge together in one amazing story. Literary Analysis on Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby

“Tell me what it means!” she cried despairingly.” It means,” he answered lightly, “that the child is not white; it means that you are not white” (Chopin, p. 192). Kate Chopin's "Desiree's Baby" is a well-known short story. “In her life, Kate Chopin actively searched for female spiritual emancipation and expressed it in her writing”(Deter, 2000). Throughout the story, Kate Chopin uses symbolism to convey her themes of racial predisposition, unequal gender roles, and social ladder in a society. The characters and the setting in this short story help provide the readers with more understanding of how patriarchal our society is at that time. The story begins with the narrator speaking of Desiree, and how she was found lying asleep, next to the property entrance. It was evident that she was abandoned; there were assumptions of who might have possibly left the small infant child. The story line took place in Louisiana. During the particular time era, and in this region, large plantations were very common, slavery too. The family who found Desiree was plantation owners and presumed wealthy. The name of the great plantation is Valmonde. Its namesake came from the name of the owners. The narrator states that the “Madame” believes the child to be essentially a gift; “that she was without child of the flesh” (Chopin, p. 189). Since she couldn’t carry a child of her own, finding a baby at her doorsteps was a blessing for her. During this period, some found it tolerable to leave a baby on the doorsteps of a family to provide a chance of a better life. Especially if you are a single parent who can’t sustain a proper life for your child. In the very beginning Desiree was left on a stone pillar at the Valmonde estate; it is also here that Armand Aubigny sees her and falls instantly in love with her. The stone pillar is a symbol of firm, forced male dominance in a patriarchal society. It is how men were of superior to anybody else. Desiree grew into a beautiful and gentle-hearted young woman and soon found a wealthy suitor asking for her hand. This young suitor was Armand Aubigny. He had known of Desiree’s past but was in love and did not care. Armand Aubigny’s character in this story was racist and despicable but the young bride was in love and looked past his faulty character. Early in the story the narrator describes the scenery of the plantation, L'Abri, which was owned by the Aubigny and says, "young Aubigny's rule was a strict one, too, and under it his Negroes had forgotten how to be gay, as they had been during the old master's easy-going and indulgent lifetime" (Chopin, p. 190). This shows Aubigny's egotism and indifference toward his slaves. His treatment of the slaves as possessions rather than human beings reveals that Aubigny has no consideration when dealing with blacks. The way Madame Valmonde described the L'Abri as “a sad looking place, which for many years had not known the gentle presence of a mistress” (Chopin, p. 190), may have been a hint at Armand’s evil nature in the story. He was raised without a mother. His mother died in France when he was eight years old and has never set foot in America where he grew up most of his life because she loved her land too well to ever leave it. The two characters soon got married and had a baby boy. Armand had changed into a kinder man after his marriage and the birth of his son. That gave so much joy to her. Four weeks after Desiree gave birth, her mother, Madame Valmonde,...
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