Miscegenation in “Desiree’s Baby”
In “Desiree’s Baby,” Kate Chopin centers on race and miscegenation in the Creoles of Louisiana during the days when slavery was legal. Chopin brings together two characters, Armand and Desiree who are completely different. Armand is a cruel slave owner who comes from “one of the oldest and proudest families in Louisiana,” and Desiree is adopted and doesn’t know her biological ancestry. The two marry and have a son whose skin turns dark after three months. Chopin shows how human beings are valued through skin color, and she shows that interracial marriages and interbreeding are not acceptable. In the story, Chopin uses three main characters, Armand, Desiree and the baby to show that love and family didn’t matter during the days when it came down to racism and miscegenation. The first way that Chopin uses her characters in the story to show that there are awful consequences that result from the taboo among whites against miscegenation is by using the value of skin color. During the days of slavery, being white was considered to be dominant or superior, and being a Negro was considered to be subordinate or inferior. A Negro having just enough white blood in him to pass for white could help him escape slavery and be accepted socially. In “Desiree’s Baby,” Chopin mentions different skin color when she speaks of the “yellow nurse” and quadroon son. She next mentions Armand’s complexion, “But Armand’s dark, handsome face had not often been disfigured by frowns since the day he fell in love with her.” Chopin also discusses different hues of skin when Desiree notices the baby’s dark skin color and asks Armand to “look at our child. What does it mean? Tell me.” Armand then responds, “It means,” he answered lightly, “that the child is not white; it means that you are not white.” Desiree then says, “look at my hand; whiter than yours, Armand.” Armand denies both his wife and son when he sees the child has Negro...
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