Analysis of Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin

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Desiree’s Baby and Southern Social Structure The short story Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin provides a sobering depiction of how the dark forces of prejudice and social hierarchy tore apart a plantation owning family in the state of Louisiana. Desiree’s character is that of a lady who carries the burden of being submissive to a domineering husband, a role she keeps until the very end of the narrative. Desiree is portrayed as an agent of light so to speak throughout the plotline but is seriously blinded by her doglike allegiance to her husband Armand, who is in essence her master and her livelihood. The struggle for female independence is a signature theme in a number of Chopin’s works and was a struggle for women in the South during this…show more content…
Desiree’s decision to take the life of her child and her own is motivated by a desire to protect her son from the situation he has been born into and her own somewhat selfish inability to envision a new life. Desiree had an outlet from the hellish atmosphere on the plantation in the form of her loving mother, Madame Valmonde, who offered asylum and support in a letter that instructs Desiree to return home with her son (Chopin 418). She chose to ignore this olive branch because it simply did not compute with her that a life existed outside of her marriage with Armand and thus she chose death for both herself and her child (Korb). Desiree’s demise is rooted in the fact that her unknown familial ties made her completely helpless and unable to provide proof that she was indeed not a part of the African American race further illustrating the power of familial status that existed at the time and its ruthlessness towards those who were considered lowly people. The racial elitism that existed in Southern culture at the time served as the foundation for the social structure on the Aubigny Plantation and Chopin details how this societally engrained prejudice cruelly affects both servants and master. “Young Aubigny’s rule was a strict one, too, and under it his negroes had forgotten how to be gay, (Chopin 416)”. This excerpt from Desiree’s Baby implies that Armand Aubigny fits the stereotypical description of many slave owners of the time and
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