Literary Analysis of Kate Chopin’s Desiree’s Baby

April 28, 2022 by Essay Writer

Kate Chopin in her short story, Desiree’s Baby, depicts an abandoned mother and child seeking desperately to appease a stone-cold father and an unforgiving society. Upon reading this short story, it is said that Desiree was that of an unknown lineage and was adopted by a loving family. The story then continues to describe the love attraction between her and Mr. Armand Aubigny who happened to be a very wealthy man. Their love connection was so strong that marriage was not given much thought, but was a sudden impulse. A marriage that is built upon attraction, and attraction alone is bound to fail. Lo and behold, the wealth and pride of Armand’s family eventually began to take a hold on his behavior and therefore the naturally prideful nature began to surface. Will the pride of Mr. Armand, the unknown ancestry of Desiree, and slave stricken community of Louisiana drive this young mother to the point of suicide? Simply put, Armand’s arrogance and unforgiving character was one of the key components that played a huge role in this tragic tale. However, Desiree’s blind love and hasty decision to marry Armand would also be the driving force of her demise.

As told at the beginning of Armand’s appearance in the story, his mother dies when he is only eight years old. Often times when a loved one dies, the ones left to mourn find themselves caught in a complex maze of emotions both psychologically and physically. Young Armand was left to cope with these unstable emotions at a very young age which could have potentially led to his future anger and resentment towards his slaves. He and his father then moved to the small French town of L’Abri where they lived a lavish life on their plantations. Armand’s behavior must have been that of an angry and arrogant rich man as defined in the story; however, Desiree was able to cast a short spell over his hardened heart. Nonetheless, his calloused heart resurfaced when the race of his child threatened his reputation. Being that Armand came from a household whose name was revered as that of kings among other plantation owners, his pride in his ancestor’s name sadly came before his obligation as the provider and caregiver of his immediate family.

The main character of the story also comes from a very twisted past. Baby Desiree was found by Monsieur Valmont on the gateway leading to his luxurious estate. Luckily, Desiree lived a comfortable life under the care of Valmont and his wife Madame Valmonde. Desiree’s unknown lineage was never seen as a hindrance during her childhood, however, it would forever change her life in the coming years. She falls in love with a wealthy young man whom we have discussed above. Like most young women when they are star struck with the man of their dreams, Desiree did not give a second thought to the consequences and restraints that a marriage would eventually pose; neither did Armand.

Desiree and Armand’s blind love is what compelled them to make such a hasty decision. She possibly believed that since Armand’s behavior changed when he was with her, she would help bring out the best in him. Love was defined very differently in the eyes of the young couple. The supposed love between the young couple was simply Desiree walking in the shadow of her husband’s overbearing pride. Once Desiree gave birth to their first son, she believed all would be well. However, when the race of their child endangered Armand’s name, his true feelings surfaced and he disgraced his wife by letting her leave with their child. Armand thought that since his wife’s lineage was undetermined, he immediately dismissed her and her reasoning with the situation, assuming she was of black heritage. If Armand truly loved his wife, he would have stuck by her side through thick and thin, no matter what circumstances were hurled their way. His love would have put his immediate family before any name, title, or reputation. Sadly, that was not the case, driving poor Desiree to the very end of herself. The only true love Desiree had throughout the story was that of her child and adoptive family. Eventually, she disappeared with her child.

There are many obvious topics that could have been discussed in this paper, such as racism and sexism. Although these would have been very interesting subjects to elaborate on, the focus of this paper was intended to shed light on how pride, rash decisions, and blind admiration could greatly affect our future as it did in this story. Armand’s selfish and arrogant behavior influenced his decisions throughout the entire story, which eventually lead to his ultimate failure as a husband and father. Desiree and Armand’s decision to marry each other without proper thought was a very foolish decision, especially without becoming familiar with the personality of the other individual. Poor Desiree’s altered interpretation of love allowed herself to be intimidated by her husband’s domineering character who eventually encouraged her to disappear with their child in hand.

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