Man's Oppression Over Woman in Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby

Categories: Kate Chopin

The concept of human rights has a long history of emphasizing that all human beings have equal value, rights and dignity, and should be treated with respect, equality and justice. Since 1948, the United Nations’ General Assembly has also proclaimed The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, some people still suffer from oppression, exploitation, discrimination and violation against their rights to enjoy equal opportunities of pursuing the fullness of life, especially for women in this day. For example, In Our Kachin society is male-dominated and men hold leading positions in political and religious areas of communal life.

Then Seit Seit state, “Adult women, especially, face a lot of discrimination from the people around them including their parents.” Family is the basic unit of society. Within this social unit there is a gender division of labor. Women and Men have different roles in the family. Often women’s roles are considered lesser. Women should have the same right as men do to enjoy the same opportunities in pursuit of the fullness of life.

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This theme will be developed in this paper. There are many people who present and protest about the human rights and gender equalities.

Among all of them, Kate Chopin is also one of the women writer who wrote the stories about that and She is well known for her feminist novel called “The Awakening.” Chopin came from the mixed background; her father is Irish, and mother was French Creole. She characterized her fiction as a bunch of deep thinking about the worries connected with the freedom from the restriction of gender and race.

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And then Her writings and her works encouraged the women who were unfairly treated by their husband or others. One of her fictions, “Desiree’s Baby, she represents about the bad mistreatment of women in the male-run community. She also analyzes the inequality between men and women in the society by using symbolism. Her story made the women in that time to realize that the society that they lived in was treated them like they were lower than men.In the story, Armand and Desiree who are from the different background were fell in love with each other. Armand is from the rich family and he has inherited his father’s properties. So he seems to see the things in his life. He also thought that he could be master over her because he was higher and has many properties than her. That’s is why he treats his wife as a beautiful possession.  Desiree was a sweet and obedient woman as a wife because she is the adopted daughter.  Chopin presents Desiree as vulnerable and easily affected, and Armand as a superior and oppressive person to show the idea of the relationship between men and women. The writer wants us to consider that Armand ruled over Desiree and Desiree was an obedient wife.

The other thing that Chopin wants to show is that males are very powerful at that time. Armand has full authority to rule the home as husband. “When he frowned, Desiree trembled,” in this sentence, we could know that Desiree have to fear him a lot. Nevertheless, at the end of the story, the conception is changed after Desiree has her son. In here we could see that women and men have different roles in the family. Often women’s roles are considered lesser. Throughout much of the world, families and societies treat girls and boys unequally, with girl’s lack of opportunity and lower levels of investment toward their health, nutrition and education and so forth. There is a lack of understanding on various levels about a woman’s worth on both sides (men and women). It seems unfortunate that a woman is punished or treated badly when she tries to take a stand for herself and other women. In Roman law a woman was the possession of her husband. Women are just like men’s robots.At first, we could tell that she has a good marriage before her baby was born.  “The passion that awoke in him that day, when he saw her at the gate, swept along like an avalanche, or like a prairie fire, or like anything that drives headlong over all obstacles.” (Desiree’s Baby) This demonstrates that Armand really does love Desiree, and that love towards her is undeniable. “That was the way all the Aubignys fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot.” This furthers the fire and passion shot by Armand to Desiree, even though Desiree was of an unknown heritage. Armand did not care about what other people against to marry Desiree. That is because he was deeply fallen in hers. “He was reminded that she was nameless. What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana.”

The theme of Identity is important in “Desiree’s Baby.” “The circumstances of her childhood strip Desiree of any true identity of her own. Her adoption by the Valmondes gives her a new identity, and indeed, she “grew to be beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere, the idol of Valmonde.”  However, Desiree’s true lack of identity never ceases to exist. When Armand wants to marry her, Monsieur Valmonde reminds the suitar that “she was nameless.” Armand’s insistence that her heritage does not mateer, that he will give her his name, enforces the idea that once again a new identity is being imposed upon Desiree even if it does not fit her.” (Taylor Hellen) “Throughout the story Desiree shows that she loves her husband “desperately” and it is obvious that she has truly married for love, a detail that makes this marriage different than the other marriages that Chopin explores. Of all the assumptions that Chopin makes about marriage, she also suggests in this story that such total devotion to a mate can also prove disastrous for a woman.  Desiree’s sense of self is directly tied to her husband’s happiness; Chopin tells the reader: “When he [Armand] frowned she [Desiree] trembled…when he smiled, she asked no greater blessing of God.” Desiree’s inability to recognize herself as anything else but Armand’s wife leads to her eventual downfall in the story. (McMahan 34).” “Armand,’ she called to him, in a voice which must have stabbed him if he was human.” (Desiree’s Baby) In this sentence, Chopin was exaggeratedly to present that Desiree was mad with Armand. It is happening when their relationship is beginning to attempt from the steady situation.

Before the baby was born, Armand rules his slaves strictly but “he has not punished one of them, not one of them, since baby is born.” Later on when they knew about that the child is descended from the mixed ancestry he thought that it was not from her family but it must be from Desiree’s family and brought “unconscious injury …. Upon his home and his name.” Because of his unwise believe he rejected his wife and child because they are “not white. “And then also he accuses Desiree because of not being white. She said “It is a lie it is not true. I am white! Look at my hair, it is brown, and my eyes are gray, Armand you know they are gray. And any skin is fair,” “Look at my hand whiter than yours, Armand,”.  In this case, Chopin wants to mention that the relationship and the family will be damaged and separated by extremely valuing of our race and status. Then also Creation of man in the image of God affirms that all human beings, possess the same value, dignity, rights and freedom in all aspects of life, as they are the same image.(Don Fleming 14).It is because of the image of God that all human beings, deserve equal rights and freedom regardless of race/ethnicity, color, sex, language, creed, and social status. (Jame M Dunn 1-2).  All actions against this deny the truth of equality we enjoy by our creation in God’s image. Therefore, everyone must be treated with equal value, dignity, rights and freedom, and must be given equal opportunities to pursue the fullness of life. Such an emphasis occurs in the Bible. This is not an option but an obligation that is central to our faith.

Then the other point is that we could consider that Armand was kind of upset because he did not have a son. In the ancient time a son is very precious because the son takes the family name.A situation that happen in most families, boys are wanted as first born.Then what he did to Desiree is that he chose to hurt her in a way that he knows will punish her when he found out that a baby was not white. for “the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and his name” Mary Papke explains: “Once it becomes evident that their son is a mulatto, Desiree loses everything: Armand throws her from the pedestal on which he had placed her down to the lowest level of animal”. Chopin writes that “Young Aubugny’s rule was a strict one and under it his Negroes had forgotten how to be gay, as they had been during the old master’s easy-going and indulgent lifetime.” After he thought that Desiree is not white, he tried to rule over her as the slave and he treated to the slaves as before. “This affects the life of not only his wife, but also his newborn son, in overtly negative ways and since she [Desiree] has no concept of herself as a person apart from her husband, she considers her life not worth living after he shuns her. At the end of the story, the plantation home becomes a false image of security and truth for Armand and a looming image of oppression and hatred for Desiree.” (McMahan 34).

In the back-time race was everything. People took seriously that you were be worthless persons if you had any in your blood line, it was leading to destroy the society and the relationships. That’s why he was so serious about this  matter because he was the “typical stereotype” person. “Armand was the master of the L’Abri plantation; he was a strict master who treated the slaves cruel. So much that, the narrator says”, “The negroes had forgotten how to be gay.” (Evans Robert 327).  Therefore, according to this situation, we could not imagine that how he would feel about that her found out that his child was not white. “The blood turned like ice in her veins, and a clammy moisture gathered upon her face. “That is why he does not want to be with her and also do not want to be part of his baby’s life. Armand just blame Desiree for descending from the negro ancestors.

Therefore, “Chopin deepens the sense of injustice and intensifies ironies with a few thoughts of Armand when he sends Desiree and their baby away: “He thought Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him; and felt, somehow, that he was paying Him back in kind when he stabbed this into his wife’s soul.” “He even said it was Desiree’s fault because she has some Negro blood in her. Desiree’s reaction was priceless instead of fighting for her baby and herself; she just felt disgrace and couldn’t believe she would have some Negro blood in her. She even says it’s a lie, gives her whole description and reasons why she can’t be of Negro decent. She even writes a letter to her Mom saying ‘My mother, they tell me I am not white. Armand has told me I am not white. You must know it is not true. I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy, and live.’ She took her baby and walked out like she was leaving the hall of shame and went back to Monsieur and Madame Valmonde. All because she thought she was of Negro decent.” (Papke 36-38).

From this movement we could learn that how the people treat and behave to the African Americans in the time.Just as he is oblivious to the injustice–and futility–of punishing Desiree (and their baby) to pay back God, he thinks nothing of his injustice to his slaves: “And the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his dealings with the slaves.” Chopin’s ability to multiply ironies is evidence of an unusually discerning intellect, like Wharton.” (Gale Robert) So, we can see that there is a lack of understanding on various levels about a woman’s worth on both sides (men and women). It seems unfortunate that a woman is punished or treated badly when she tries to take a stand for herself.

The other thing that Chopin describes in this story is that anger does not solve anything. Instead of Armand being so mad and acting so dam irrational he should have handled the situation differently. Why? He is not only lost what he was fighting and living for when he read his mother’s letter, and to find out he was the one that was actually of negro decent. That must have made him feel bad he not only lost his child. He lost his trophy wife and to make this worse. The thing he hated the most is inside him, and he has to live with that for the rest of his life. The name he was fighting for to keep clean was already dirtied. The last thing that I like about this story is Chopin leaves the story empty gap almost like o be continued so you can create your own little ending in what Armand should do. In Conclusion, The issues and problems in Kate Chopin’s story connects with issues in today’s society. There still exist many men in this world who hold low opinions of women, are hypocritical in their thoughts, dealings, and actions with women, and treat honorable, respectable women poorly, just as Armand did in Chopin’s stories.

Nowadays, some women are bounded by male dominance or a patriarchal pattern in society and family as well. Despite this practicing of the patriarchal system in our society, women should have equal rights and opportunities with men in society? God’s creation of humanity in his own image reminds us that all human beings have the same value, dignity and rights. God’s redemption of humanity through Jesus Christ also reminds us to recognize this value, dignity and rights, and the talent-based role and examples of the twenty-first century teaches us to observe, recognize, restore and promote them.

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Man's Oppression Over Woman in Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby. (2021, Dec 28). Retrieved from

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