Race As a Providing Theme in Desiree’s Baby
The Root of Evil
Race has a tight grasp on our daily lives whether we realize it or not. The control it has over our world and society stays quite elusive. It slowly creeps into our thoughts and actions without warning. The construction of race has changed and evolved over time, but the central root which takes its place within our very hearts has remained stable. In the three works Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin, Theme for English B by Langston Hughes, and The Lynching by Claude Mckay, race is looked at from different points of view but with the same ending result of inferiority and biasness. This is ultimately a deeper look into racism and how it was molded and transformed along the way into what it is now.
In the short story by Kate Chopin, race is looked at as despicable and almost revolting when mixed in a marriage. To find out that his wife was not white was enough for Armand to “avoid her presence and that of her child, without excuse” (Baym, 423). This created a segregated household and a split in a family. The influence that race has over society is like that of a disease, creating wide spread disproval of those who are infected while forcing them into seclusion. Telling his wife he wants her to leave is all that is left for Armand who feels “God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him…” for giving him this wife that ruined his name and smeared the filthy disease upon his home and future, but really it was within him the whole time, “Moreover he no longer loved her…” (Baym, 424). Later on, it is revealed that the reason behind the hatred of this race is due to the cultural beliefs and pride that place everyone above this “race that is cursed with the brand of slavery,” (Baym, 425). Slavery is the label placed upon this race that puts them in a life of no freedom or choices. To be ranked a slave is to be thrown into the deepest pit and never found again. This creates much anger and wrath upon this unforgivable race, which is where the idea of racism first takes root within us.
Just as race causes tension within the home, it has also caused issues within a learning environment. In the work by Langston Hughes, the fight against racism has already begun and is only the beginning of the journey that will be made. The main point being created in this work is that color is the only obstacle separating people from mutual agreement and harmony. “I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love,” are just a few of the statements that depict the idea of goals and values that reflect each other in every race (Baym, 1044). Racism fails to have a valid excuse for existing. Other than him being “the only colored student in my class,” nothing separates him from his peers or from society. A pivotal moment occurs after it is mentioned that “being colored doesn’t make me not like the same things…” (Baym, 1044). Other races and people who are not white all want the same things out of life one way or another. Race is being looked at as a beautiful difference in culture and now longer as something that can cause separation and ill treatment of others. When the student says, “As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me,” (Baym, 1044). This opens the door for the cure to this vile disease created by mankind. Just getting along and allowing each of our races to influence each other positively and create a new ground for understanding and knowledge.
Lastly, in the short work by Claude Mckay, race is given its most gruesome portrayal where the death of a race is looked upon as a fun sport or an extermination to cleanse society. “The ghastly body swaying in the sun,” shines a whole new light on the situation of racism (Baym, 927). Racism takes leaps and strides forward in a positive direction, but also takes bounding steps backwards as well. There can never be true equality at all times, but there are moments of peace that bring joy for a brief moment. Along with that comes those who stick their noses up in disgust at the people who are different from them. The women who would watch or walk by this horrid sight “never a one showed sorrow in her eyes,” (Baym, 927). This represents how in this journey that shapes race, there will be those who look on with apathy and no interest of the events taking place simply because it is not something they feel the need to get involved in or have an opinion about. Not only are there those who don’t get involved, but those who are destined to, “little lads, lynchers that were to be,” that danced around the hanging body really depict the future of race at this time period. This really symbolizes that no matter how many positive moves are made toward a better society, there will always be those who take pleasure in separating themselves from those they think less of whether that be race, class, or any other social rank (Baym, 927). The root that grows within can be evil as well as harmonious, but only time can tell what it will turn out to be.
These two works portray a very specific biasness against racial differences. It perfectly reflects the journey that this problem has taken and how today there have been many advances in equality and acceptance in our country. Though the root still remains deeply imbedded within us, it is one that can grow into something positive if we let it. One day allowing it to instill courage and bravery in our hearts that fight against the troubling differences we find in each other that cause us to fall inferior to our own standards.
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