In Kate Chopin’s “Desiree’s Baby” race and prejudice is a prevalent subject that surrounds the entire piece. The amount of hostility Armand shows toward Desiree after the realization of the baby’s mixed heritage stems from Armand’s own self-hatred. He resents his heritage; he wants nothing more but to continue on his family name but cannot without having a child that appears full white. This ultimately leads to Desiree’s suicide as well as the death of her young child. While the ending is obviously ironic, Chopin does not go into any details of Armand reaction.
There is no reference to possible shock on Armand’s part; the text simply reads “He read it. ”(202) This seems unusual since one expect the author to show Armand’s remorse; to show he is aware of the injustice of his actions. Chopin ambiguity leads to the conclusion that Armand was already fully conscious of his mixed heritage. Desiree is found in “asleep in the shadow of the big stone pillar. ”(199) It is no coincidence that the same place that Desiree is abandoned is the very place Armand falls “in love with her. (199)
The shadow that Desiree sleeps in foreshadows her death; the big stone pillar is the tombstone she never receives since she drowns to death in the bayou
Instead, he reverts to his old self at the disappointment of his colored child. The position of the letter revealing Armand’s origin is also symbolically significant. “…back in the drawer…but it was not Desiree’s; it was part of an old letter from his mother to his father. ”(202) The fact that the letter is hidden behind all of Desiree’s love letters suggests Armand had already read the letter and tries to push back out of reach from even himself. Desiree’s letters pile in front as she represents this hope that will save his family name; he hopes he can hide behind Desiree.
Essentially, Armand makes Desiree his salvation and when she unable to cover his sin, he ultimately rejects her. Had Armand been completely unaware of his race, the ending would be more tragic, the reader would feel small amount sympathy for him. Instead Chopin subtly suggests throughout the entire text that there is no reason to feel any pity; Armand was not shocked with the letter revealing his mother’s race simply because he was aware far prior to the conclusion. Works Cited Kate, Chopin. “Desiree’s Baby. ” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. 8th . Boston: Bedford/St. Martin, 2011. 199-202. Print.