Theme of Choice in Short Story Desiree’s Baby
Love changes people for better or worse. Armand, a slave owner in Louisiana, falls in love with Desiree, a girl with an unknown origin. They later get married and have a baby boy. Love changed Armand. Desiree saw his love change, that made Desiree happy. Love also changed Armand’s behavior towards his slaves. The story explains Armand sudden change after realizing their baby is not white, yet Desiree is blamed for the child not having same skin color of her parents because of her uncertain background. Armand’s pride took over him and suddenly told Desiree he wanted to leave her as he disowned and caused pain in her. Desiree further stated that she couldn’t live without him, because she loved him dearly. In fact, In” Desiree’s Baby”, Kate Chopin uses the protagonist interaction with her husband and members of society to express the idea that racism and pride negatively impact all people, and can ultimately lead to death. South of Louisiana was so cruel towards blacks.
A lot of slave owners mistreated slaves, and Armand was one of them slave owners. He came from a family that was well known. He felt that he had to protect his family name and their history, he didn’t want to destroy his name as a slave owner and for society to judge him for having a black baby. His actions are read by society and not byself-worth. If society doesn’t accept blacks, then he can’t accept them neither. Armand didn’t want people to see him different and not take him seriously, so he left Desiree. Armand pride was let down because of the disappointment his wife brought upon his family. This explains that he wasn’t true to his love for Desiree. Armand was only motivated by his pride and prejudiced and his uncertain love. The baby boy would’ve kept the family name and it shows that Armand only cared about the importance of holding the family name. In the 19th century, all whites were accepted, and all blacks was an outcast, and were to live a harsh slavery life. Armand parents were white & Desiree skin color was white, so therefore the baby skin color growing into black was automatically not accepted in society.
Armand burns everything that contains Desiree and the baby, anything that connects him to blacks. This shows he can’t disobey his white society. Desiree feels shame and hate in herself and not knowing her origins, she feels as if she is the problem her baby is mixed with black. Desiree writes a letter to her adoptive mom, explaining that she is unhappy from the mistreatment from her husband. This shows she can’t accept being black and having a black child in a society that doesn’t accept them. Her husband Armand rejecting her, and her dark skin baby and her feelings of dearth lead her to drown in the swamp with her baby. Racism played a key role in the 19th century. Only whites could marry whites and only slaves could marry slaves. This resulted in black people not being accepted because of their mixed heritage. It affects people who are victims and who cannot accept it like Desiree and Armand. Which is the reason why Armand disowned his wife, by placing one race in a higher social class than the other. In the story, it shows how skin color defines identity and social class. Desiree death wasn’t the only option for her and her baby. She had other options to go live with her adoptive mom if she felt unwelcome, instead of choosing death over life. Desiree didn’t think about this option because she was so happy with her husband and couldn’t imagine life without.
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