The Aftermath of Racial Prejudice in “Desiree’s Baby” The 1800s, an era of racial prejudice and discrimination, concentrated itself prominently in the southern states. Southern societies lived by the “one-drop rule” where “a person who looks white but has a ‘drop’ of black ‘blood’ is labeled black” (Peel par. 15). In “Desiree’s Baby,” this strict rule allows Armand Aubigny to betray his family when he discovers their black heritage (but, in reality, Aubigny has the black heritage). With the era of discrimination as a setting, Kate Chopin (the author), uses characterization of Armand Aubigny, parallel characters, and irony in “Desiree’s Baby” to convey the theme of how racial prejudice in any form will result in negative outcomes such as broken families. Armand Aubigny’s environment and childhood influences his lifestyle and beliefs to accept racial discrimination as common. By owning a family name that represents a boastful heritage “[that is the] oldest and proudest in Louisiana,” and a place in society as a plantation owner, Aubigny has superiority over the blacks (Chopin par. 2). Therefore, Aubigny, “confident that he is a white, a male, and a master… in control” (Peel par. 6), automatically looks “for a black mother [Desiree, his wife] to blame” (par. 21) as soon as he realizes his son resembles a quadroon (one quarter black). As a consequence of his regular habit of racial prejudice, Aubigny betrays his loved ones and “undergo[es] the trauma of receiving the news that they [his family] is black” (Peel par. 27). In a different perspective, the unfair treatment of two parallel female characters, Desiree and La Blanche, portrays injustice of the racial prejudice present in “Desiree’s Baby.” Desiree and La Blanche “live in a world that values racial purity” and where “black is to be condemned to a life of subservience” (Rosenblum 1). This world causes Desiree and a white-looking concubine named La Blanche to fall into dishonor based on false accusation;
Chopin.Kate. "Desiree 's Baby." Awakening & Selected Short Stories (1899). 97-100. Literary Reference Center. Web. 17 Apr. 2013.
Peel, Ellen. “Semiotic Subversion in ‘Desiree’s Baby.’” American Literature. 62.2 (June, 1990): 223-37. Rpt. Short Story Criticism. Ed. Jennifer Smith. Vol.13. Farmington: Gale, 2001.
Rosenblum. Joseph. “Desiree’s Baby.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004). 1-2. Literary Reference Center. Web. 26 Mar. 2013.
Shen. Dan. "Implied Author, Overall Consideration, and Subtext of ‘Desiree 's Baby.’" Poetics Today 31.2 (2010). 285-311. Literary Reference Center. Web. 8 Apr. 2013.