Kate Chopin wrote the short story “Desiree's baby” in 1892, when black people where considered second-class citizens. Even though the slaves were freed in 1865 as a directly consequence of the north states victory at the civil war, racial segregation were at it highest, particular because of the “Jim Crow” laws. Black people were free – but their opportunities were not good. Even tough many new schools and churches were built for the black people, racism were a big sinner and black people were treated very bad - especially in the south states. Miscegenation was a cursed word, as the communities saw it as a crime and both the family and the baby were suppressed. Desiree felt that on her own body.
“Desiree's baby” contains a lot of typical short story characteristics, e.g. “in media res” and an ambiguous ending – yet it differs on places, such as the length of the act and the number of characters - but Kate Chopin wrote both short stories and novels, so it's not unthinkable that she mixed the two genres here.
The short story is told by an omniscient third-person narrator. It's not a limited narrator, as we hear more than one character's thoughts. E.g. in this sentence “it made her laugh to think of Desiree with a baby” one of the characters, Madame Valmonde's, inner thoughts are shared with us, while Armand bares his soul places like this “he thought Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him; ...”.
The main character is Desiree. She's “beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere – the idol of Valmonde” and an orphan, found in “the shadow of the big stone pillar” just outside Valmonde. She's adopted by the religious and kindly madame Valmonde, who believes that “Desiree had been sent to her by a beneficent Providence to be the child of her affection, seeing that she was without child of the flesh”. Desiree's also described very gentle in her actions, e.g. with the slaves and she's madly in love with Armand, which sentences...
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