Désirée's Baby

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Désirée's Baby
Author Kate Chopin
Published 1893-01-14
Type Fiction, Short story
Genre Drama
Themes Drama, Racism, Romance
Age Group Adult

Désirée's Baby is a short story written by Kate Chopin and first published in Vogue on 1893-01-14 with the title "The Father of Désirée's Baby." The story is now in the public domain.

The story deals with mixed race and revolves around Désirée, a girl who was abandoned as a baby by her birth parents and raised in Louisiana by a wealthy Creole family.

Personal

Own?Compilation book.
Read?Compilation book.
Finished2023-03-01.

I randomly chose this short story out of an anthology because of the author's name to better increase my familiarity with female authors.

Review

Overall:

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— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The story is pretty thought-provoking, a nice challenge to the norms of the racist people of the time, and, over a century later, an important reminder of the horrible things racism can make people do.
  • I like how Désirée's race is never fully revealed, but Armand's is, making it clear that, Désirée might be mixed race, but Armand certainly is. This, no doubt, comes as a severe blow to his ego when he discovers it only after abandoning his wife and child for the same "crime."
  • Despite its short length, there is an interesting use of foreshadowing. Armand's parents are very concerned that Désirée's lineage can't be ascertained, and, when Armand tells Désirée she can't be white because of their child's dark skin, she points out the fact that her skin is pale, whiter even than Armand's.

Bad

  • The implication is, Désirée, hurt beyond words, purposely took her son into the bayou and the two died there, which I felt was a bit ham-fisted. This makes Désirée seem unnecessarily weak and prevents Armand from rectifying his mistake. Although cruel lessons are sometimes necessary, the story ends before Armand can make amends or even show remorse which makes it tragic for the sake of tragedy, which I don't care for.
  • There is a minor plot hole that is ignored in the book. By having a mixed race child, it could imply that Désirée was impregnated by someone other than Armand. He never considers this, thought it wasn't unheard of in his time, and instead jumps to the conclusion that his paler-than-he-is wife must be of mixed race.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Adaptions

The story has been adapted to a short film.

Links

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