Foreshadowing in “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin Report (Assessment)

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jan 31st, 2021

“There was something in the air menacing her peace. It was at first too subtle to grasp” (Chopin 109). This extract from the story reveals a lot about Desiree and how she unconsciously failed to realize that her baby was a quadroon. During the visit by Madam Valmonde the issue of the baby being black cropped out amid their discussion, although Desiree was unable to notice. The sudden change of behavior of her husband also gave the implication that he had noticed that the baby was a quadroon but still Desiree could not figure it out.

The black race in the story is an accursed race to slavery, although in the home Armand blacks were treated nicely during his father’s rule and a repeat of this happened after the baby was born until a few months later. “An air of mystery among the blacks” (Chopin 109) implies that they were thinking that the child is one of their own. There had to be one among the two: Desiree and Armand, who has a black origin. It was still a mystery in the air among the black servants.

There are unexpected things in the story that are foreshadowed by the phrase “unexpected visit from far-off” (Chopin 109). How it became obvious to Desiree that her baby is black is one of the things. She did not expect that her baby would be a quadroon and when she realized it, it hit her out of surprise. She also did not expect that her husband would be cruel to her after the revelation and this made her want to die because she truly loved him and she thought the same about her husband (Rosenblum). Lastly, Armand also did not expect that he came from a lineage of black people whom he perceived as cursed into slavery.

Even though there is no specific place in the story where it is said that Desiree committed suicide, there are several instances where this notion is implicated. After getting to realize that her baby was a quadroon and Armand being unexpectedly cruel to her, she immediately wrote a letter to her mother Madam Valmonde stating what she wants to do. She emphasized the point using repetition “I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy and live” (Chopin 110). From this statement, the option of suicide was something that she was considering.

Desiree is also portrayed as a very weak character who wants to constantly be loved and cared for (Peel 225). It seems as though she has never experienced rejection and so she did not know how to respond to her husband’s cruelty. It is also said that she never returned meaning that no one ever knew of her whereabouts. There is therefore a possibility that she might have committed suicide.

In case she indeed committed suicide, then I think that option was inappropriate to explore. It may be as a result of her weakness. Even though she lived in a society that greatly values the purity of race and the black race was considered accursed race, she could have gone back to her mother with the baby where they were all accepted (Foy 91). She is not the only character in the story with a hidden family line, if she were a strong character, she would have demanded an explanation from the husband rather than backing down and deciding to leave. This would have made the husband seek answers about his mother’s lineage. After all, the husband was darker than she was and this would have made him blame the mistake on himself rather than the wife.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. “Desiree’s Baby” The Short Story: An Introduction To Short Fiction. Ed. J. Dennielle True. New York: Pearson, 2011. 108-112.

Foy, R. R. “Chopin’s ‘Desiree’s Baby. ‘” The Explicator 49 (1991): 222-223. Online.

Peel, Ellen. “Semiotic Subversion in “Desiree’s Baby” American Literature 1990: 223-237.

Rosenblum. Joseph. “Desiree’s Baby” Masterplots II: Short Story Series 1986. Online. Magill On Literature. 2002.

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