Gender Symbolism In Desiree's Baby By Kate Chopin

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“Desiree’s Baby” is a story in which a young girl, Desiree, is abandoned and raised by an upper class family. A harsh slave owner, Armand, falls in love with her and orders corbeille – wedding gifts from the groom to the bride – and marries her as soon as they arrive. They have a child whose skin color shows to be of a mixed race. Armand rejects his wife and child, sending them off to die. When Armand is getting rid of Desiree’s things, he finds a letter from his mother stating that he is the son of a slave. An analysis of Kate Chopin’s “Desiree’s Baby” shows the ways in which gender inequality, class and race play a large theme in mid-nineteenth century Southern culture.
The gender inequality Chopin insinuates in her story is one that women still battle today. By buying Desiree corbeille gifts and fine clothes, she is treated as a possession by Armand. He seems to believe that by gifting these items to her, he can buy her – and her love. “He ordered the corbeille from Paris, and contained himself with what patience he could until it arrived, then they were married” (p. 81). As soon as the gifts arrived, he married her. It is as if those physical objects symbolized their marriage, condemning Desiree to be seen as an object too. When Armand burns Desiree’ belongings in a pyre, he is trying to rid his memory of her. Destroying physical objects again reduces Desiree into an object, one that can be forgotten by being rid of her belongings.
The social status of the Aubignys’
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