Gender Roles in Kate Chopin’s Desiree’s Baby
In fact, women’s rights in the late 19th century were slowly taken seriously in the United States. Women’s rights have inspired many writers to create themes. One of the most famous female writers, Kate Chopin, has a few racist works in addition to women’s topics in her novels. Desiree’s Child is one of the remarkable short stories.
Desiree’s fate is to describe vividly and subtly. The book tells the story of the southern part of the United States during the slavery period. The heroine Desiree is an abandoned baby when she met Armand, they fell in love. But the children they gave birth to were not white, so the love of the two instantly collapsed. In the face of Armand’s incomprehension and insult, the sad Desiree held the children to throw the water. But ironically, at the end of the novel, Armand knows that the real reason for the impureness of the child’s bloodlines is that he has a non-white mother who he does not do. This tragedy shows that despite their love, in the society at that time, the double discrimination against race and gender made everything disappear, and eventually Desiree became the victim of this family battle.
This novel of a few thousand words not only reflects the fate and struggle of women under the patriarchal rule but also reveals the cruelty and social and cultural implications of racial discrimination in American society. The charm of Kate Chopin’s work is that each reader can interpret different meanings from it, so some people call it “not fully comprehend the story.” However, in this story, Kate Chopin reveals two critical issues that still afflict Americans today: Racial Discrimination and Identity.
Racial Discrimination is an ordinary existence; identity is a problem of women’s cognition of women’s status. Both issues have been profoundly revealed in the novel. Desiree is a dull and weak woman, but she still needs to rely on men. The patriarchal society twice abandoned her and eventually killed the murderer of his life, the invisible and ubiquitous killer of racial and gender double discrimination. When reading this book, he could not help thinking: Why is a woman Struggling with the identity and status she should have. Desiree was an abandoned baby, who was seen and adopted by the kind Madam Valmonde. “This little one awoke up in his arms and began to cry for “Dada.” That was as much as she could do or say”(Chopin 1). This is the first time the patriarchal society defamed her. This “dad” may be a signal that is not willing to be abandoned again. At the beginning of the story, the identity of Desiree was vague, which led to the occurrence of a series of tragedies. Madam Valmonde has no fertility, and she believes this is the best gift God has given her. She loves Desiree, like her flesh and blood. After becoming mature, Desiree became “For the girl grew to be beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere, – the idol of Valmonde” (Chopin 1). Armand lived in a fragmented family. His father was abandoned in Paris since childhood and was raised by his mother. When he was eight years old, his mother died, and his father took it back to his home in the United States. In the end, it was learned that Armand’s mother had a non-white lineage, a race that was a curse because of the brand of slaves.
In 1705, custom-made “black law” was a black slave for life, a slave for generations. The existence of slavery is doomed to create a mixture of blood, because the relationship between whites and minorities in the South is the relationship between the master and the slave, and the slave owner has easy access to the female slave who is in the servant status. In the eyes of white racists,” A drop of black blood “is enough to taint the entire family lineage. Therefore, Armand was born and rejected by the family and social condemnation. Racial mix is not encouraged, and mixed-race descendants are not accepted among whites, and mixed-race descendants are classified as blacks in race and society. Armand’s mother was pregnant with the owner’s child, but to maintain the family’s honor, the director took her to Paris thousands of miles away, letting her raise their children alone. Because of the French at that time, the situation and status of black people had apparent advantages. They declared their lives free and equal before the law. The trauma of childhood brought poison to the growth and character formation of Armand. His experience from his hometown and his father’s absence made him mentally abused and sowed the seeds of racism so that in his later life he gradually showed the characteristics shared by the mixed-race American society during the slavery period. Character stubborn, full of hatred, and very sensitive to pedigree problems. Desiree and Armand fall in love at first sight. Armand wanted to get marry Desiree, but his adoptive father, Monsieur Valmonde, asked him to be cautious because she has no name and she does not know what to know. There are many uncertainties when she is unclear. Armand said, “What is a name? He can give him the oldest and most proud name in Louisiana”(Chopin 2). According to Armand’s discourse logic, Desiree does not need his surname.
Anonymous is a female-only character. All women, including Desi, lose their name once they marry. Lose their name not only means that she is a woman, but also that she is black because, in the pre-civil society, white slave owners deprived the names of black slaves. Armand did not realize that this was a warning. This negligence buried the ominous seeds for the fate of both. After the marriage, Desiree gave birth to a son, who should enjoy a happy and happy life; but the fate has teased her, his child is not white, and Armand cannot help but blame her for the “impurity.” At this time, she was once again abandoned. She completely lost her position in this world; she is not needed. Originally, the child was not pure white, and there were two possibilities: the father was a mixed-race or the mother. However, in a patriarchal society, women are always weak and unprotected. In the story, Desiree fate has always been chosen by others. When Armand saw Desiree, he fell in love with her. “The passion that awoke in him that day, when he saw her at the gate, swept along like an avalanche, or like a prairie fire, or like anything that drives headlong over all obstacles”(Chopin 1). But, does Desire love Armand? How does he feel about her? The author of Kate Chopin has never let her speak, and there is no such thing as a right to speak. In a patriarchal society, women are subordinate to men at all stages of their lives. Initially his father, and later her husband. His life has been around men, the man who said in his words, only death is himself. For the first time in the story, I spoke and said his son. When Madam Valmonde discovered that Desiree’s child’s skin colour was abnormal, Desiree reaction was “I knew you would be astonished”(Chopin 2). “at the way he has grown. The little cochon de lait! Look at his legs, mamma, and his hands and finger-mails, – real finger-mails. Zandrine had to cut them this morning. Is n’t it true Zandrine” (Chopin 2). The word “surprise” indicates that Desire’s simplicity, ignorance and world involvement are not deep. She never thought about what the child’s skin colour meant and did not expect her to be devastated. Desiree is a blank piece of paper; she does not know what a child of a different skin color means to a family.
Gender differences are doomed to differences in discourse power. The last time conversation between Desiree and Armand It happened after Desiree wrote to her foster mother. She took the letter and asked Armand, hoping that he would let her stay, so there would be the following Dialogue: “Do I go back, Armand?” / “Yes, go.” / “Do you want me to go back?” / “Yes, I want you to go back”(Chopin 4). These words make Desiree to Facing death. So, who killed Desiree? We know that no one in the novel has direct responsibility for the death of Desiree. The murderer did not appear. But it is everywhere. It is an invisible, massively lethal gender and ethnic power relationship, prejudice and discrimination that pervade an abnormal society. From the gentle and steady narrative of Desiree’s Baby, we have seen that in a patriarchal society, women suffer from unequal treatment: a beautiful, pure, innocent woman. It has become a victim of male rights and racial discrimination that people are used to.
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