Regionalism In Désirée's Baby By Kate Chopin

848 Words4 Pages
The literary movement of Regionalism was a time of self identification and exploration. Writers in this era wrote pieces based off of their own experience and surroundings. They explored topics not traditionally discussed in high brow literature and used their own personal language to illustrate their ideas. One of the more pronounced writers of this era was Kate Chopin, a widowed mother who wrote nearly exclusively about the Louisiana Bayou and women of her time. One of her most popular short stories was “Désirée’s Baby”, a piece dealing with race, heritage, and bayou culture. Katherine O’Flaherty was born in 1850 into high St. Louis society. She was raised by her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, all of whom were widowed, well-educated,…show more content…
The characters live in higher society, shown by their possession of plantations, slaves, and fine clothing. The Valmondés and the Aubignys, the two distinguished families mentioned, both value their heritage and family name (Chopin 422). When Madame Valmondé visits Désirée a few months after she has her child, it becomes apparent that something is wrong through her language. Madame Valmondé is shocked to see how much the baby has “changed”, and questions Désirée about what Armand thinks of the child (422). Clearly, Madame Valmondé sees something that Désirée does not. References are also made to “the yellow nurse” Zandrine, a light skinned African American woman, and “quadroon”, or mixed race, children, foreshadowing the racial ‘impurity’ of Désirée’s child (422-23). Due to Armand’s cultural beliefs of white supremacy and white purity, when it is discovered that his child is not white he all but casts out his wife and child. Désirée writes home to her adoptive mother in tears, insisting that it must not be her who is not white; her mother writes back telling Désirée to come home to the mother that loves her (424). Désirée asks her husband if he wants her to leave, and he says yes. She takes her baby and leaves the property, disappearing into the bayou swamp, presumably never to be seen again (424). At the end of the story, it is revealed that it was Armand who was not truly white, as it was his mother who belonged “to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery”
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