Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chopin, Kate. "Desiree's Baby."


  1. I think that this is an interesting story because it highlights the way people thought in the time of slavery. It is also interesting because it was common to have children of mixed blood. The sad thing is the way even those who are mixed deny it and are prejudiced against their own kind. It shows that in that time blood was thicker than love and happy couples could crumble because of a slightly tanner child. I liked the ending which showed that he threw out his wife and her baby when he was the same as his own child, mixed. He denied it and made sure the only bit of proof was burned in the flames.

  2. In the beginning of the short story, I was very puzzled. I did not understand what a “yellow nurse woman” was, I had to re-read the first part of the short story. I did like how the narrator tells the story about how Armand and Desiree fell in love, “as if struck by a pistol shot.” That quote does not sound very romantic or how I would like to tell people about how my fiancĂ© and I fell in love. Then again I like it because its so deep and fits the whole story so well that it was my focusing point in the story, it kept me going basically. I also like how the narrator describes the surroundings of Desiree’s house as being like a “cowl.” In my opinion, some households are still ran like that today by having a man that is demanding and controlling to their wives.
    I agree with what you (Ambivalent) said, “It shows that in that time blood was thicker than love.” It is very sad that Armand lost his whole family just because of him being worried about his child and wife’s race. No one will ever know of what really happened especially not Desiree because the only piece of evidence Armand burned. I am sure that a number of families in this time period went through the same ordeal of leaving each other just because of the color of their skin.
    If Armand would have fought for Desiree when she showed him the letter from Madame Valmonde that would have changed the whole plot of the story. It also showed that Armand was truly more worried about the mixed issue.

  3. I had read the story before but through this reading a lot of things were brought to my attention that I hadn't noticed before. I hadn't realized that the various analogies and metaphors that represented how Desiree and Armand didn't appear as romantic as they had before. Phrases like, "the wonder that he had not loved her before", "the passion that had awoke in him that day", or the one about Armand's love for her was like "a prarie fire", makes a lot of obvious points that he is not a very stable, use to fits of different emotions at any moment, and from the descriptions about him and the slaves before the child's birth was also a great eye opener into Armand's character. Red flags should have gone off in Desiree but unfortunately for her sake, she was very in love with Armand. Another point that stuck out to me was that Armand for one went right to Desiree parentage and that he also ignored the fact that Desiree could have had an affair with a slave. Even though both of these conclusions would have been terrible actions on the behalf of Desiree, she was not at fault at all in the child being of mixed race or as far as we know. She was an orphan, so her parentage in questionable but Armand, being mixraced is not questionable and he is mostly to blame. Even though he found out later, it was wrong of him to treat Desiree the way he did. This story has been of interest to me because of my own family's multicultural or mixed background. Love is love and race should not prevent people from being together, and I speak from a personal basis and experience due to my family and seeing how every family reunion resembles a UN meeting. But due to the time period it was a very dangerous and disheartening situation to deal with but I believe Armand and Desiree could have or should have handled the situation better. I am glad that things have tremendously changed.

  4. To Ambivalent-
    Do you think he knew that he was mixed? Is that why he was burning the letter?
    While reading this story (for the first time), I was so certain within the first few paragraphs that Desiree was mixed, therefore, I was really surprised to find that it was in fact Armand who was mixed. I really felt Desiree's pain when Armand disowned her because he thought she was mixed. I can't comprehend someone decided that they no longer have feelings for someone because of a detail like that. Then again, Chopin does describe their love in violent terms.

  5. “Desiree’s Baby” reads a harsh social commentary for me. Although I love the story, as it is my favorite short story by Kate Chopin, the story is not about Desiree, or her baby, but about Armand. He is the central moving character in the story. For me, Desiree is far too weak to be a well characterized dynamic person. She is whiney and dependent; however, she is simply a product of her environment. Armand helped in creating a sad and helpless being. His rejection of her and their child led to her ultimate demise, and sadly, Armand seems to never take responsibility for his actions which leaves an ambiguous tone to the end of the story. Chopin seems to comment on the social norms of women as the lesser sex, revealing that men aid in creating their “lesser minded” counterparts. Rather than let women live their own lives, and be their own person, women are subject to the every whim of a man’s desire. I found it interesting that in “Desiree’s Baby,” as well as other writing by Chopin, that women only find freedom in death. It seems that for second class citizens (women), the only way to overcome the tyrannical rule of a patriarchal society is to totally undermine the system and end the tyranny in death.

  6. Response to Tiffany-

    I agree with you that Desiree had nothing to do with what color she as well as her baby was, but now in today's society we have the knowledge of what is going on; however, why do people still neglect people who are a different race from them even if they are family memebers?