“Desiree’s Baby”, by Kate Chopin, is a short story that deals with love, prejudice and rejection, including some racist traits. The story develops in a period of time characterized by separation of races where whites were rich and superior and blacks were inferior and mostly slaves. Throughout this short story, social status and how human relationships were dominated by power and appearance, become the center of the story. Desiree’s Baby” describes the life of a young woman called Desiree, who was adopted by the Valmonde’s family when she was abandoned in front of their house.
This young woman marries Armand Aubigny, who had one of the richest and proudest names in Louisiana, and who at the beginning fell in love with Desiree in a way in which he did not care about her origins and gave her his important name. Armand and Desiree had a son, who was having black skin as he was growing; what in the time, was considered a disgrace for the entire family and most important in this case, to Armand.
Desiree having a child with black skin brings the essential factor to the story were the characteristics of Armand clearly show up. The character of Desiree’s husband, Armand Aubigny, is showed as a violent and insensitive person, with a nature based only on his high social status as the only significance in life. Armand starts to be seen as a violent character when he is first introduced: “Armand Aubigny”, his name itself derives from the word “arm” in English, related to a fighting perception.
When he falls in love with Desiree, it is described as a love at first sight, surrounded by violent adjectives and comparisons: ” as if struck by a pistol shot…like an avalanche, or like a prairie fire, or like anything that drives headlong over all obstacles. ” These comparisons relate to the character with a violent and really strong behavior, serious, that when he falls in love at first sight does things without thinking twice. As well as when described by his wife DEsiree as ” spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him”.
Armand Aubigny shows his violent features all along the story, also seen when he makes his wife leave their house, “Yes, I want you to go”, which will be more in deep developed among this essay. Armand does not seem to feel or to care, instead, he appears as a really insensitive person; “forgotten how to be gay…Armand’s dark,handsome face had not often been disfigured by frowns since the day he fell in love with her. ” It is not only his behavior but also his physical characteristics are showing a person who is not present, and is not taking care of his things in life.
Also, mentioned in the story “he absented himself from home…avoided her presence and that of her child, without excuse”; Here there is a husband described who does not give explanations to his wife, and is not present at home during the first years of his own son. And as mentioned before, during the farewell of his wife, is unable to speak a word, even when loosing her wife, he does not give her an answer, the narrator describes Armand’s thoughts as “no longer loved her”; as if he did not care at all about the departure of both his wife and unique son.
A third and last aspect of the important character of Armand Aubigny, is that all his features led him appear as a person whose goal in life and whose only concern is the social status and appearance in public. Armand has a vital struggle in which he allows himself to be interested and sometimes racist. He is a rich man, who inherited his father’s plantation as well as “one of the oldest and proudest” name “in Louisiana”. A really clear and good example where this concept is seen is when his wife explains how proud Armand is having a baby boy, because a girl would have badly influence his name; “He is the proudest father in the parish”.
Also since both parents noticed that the baby boy began to have some black skin, Armand “took his wife and son” out of his way, as if they were mere possessions which were destroying his high social status and his famous name: ” Yes, go…Yes, I want you to go. ” Things in Armand life appear as objects, simple things, that can affect his name good or bad. Armand Aubigny appears as a key character in the story, since he is the starting point of the breaking down of the marriage with Desiree, the woman with whom he fell so violent and strongly in love, which showed the different characteristics that refers to Armand among the whole story.
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