In Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Chopin strives to argue social emancipation for women In the mid to late 1800’s women are viewed as homemakers, “Men demonstrate their dominance over women by generally confining them to the devalued registers of the home and the kitchen” (Brightwell 37). This is an era of raging patriarchy, if a woman is devoting time to something other than raising a family, she is looked down upon. Chopin emphasizes this through the social contrast between
Kate Chopin, an author during the antebellum period, discusses the importance of women throughout many of her works. During the antebellum period, women had no rights compared to men and African Americans had even less rights. Women were stereotypical supposed to stay home and care for the children. Kate Chopin viewed women differently, her works put women in a position of power, which cause great controversy during this time. Throughout the short story entitled “Desiree’s Baby,” Kate Chopin includes many examples of racial and gender bias through irony, element of surprise, and symbolism to support that Armand was unaware of his past and ethnic origin, only learning about his parentage from reading a letter discovered at the end of the story.
The Baby’s Parents In a period, such as the antebellum, a multitude of factors shaped the lives of men and women. Movements for abolition caused tensions in the south for slaves and large farmers, while the women’s suffrage movement began to alter the roles of women in America. In "Desiree 's Baby", Chopin illustrates how race, social conformity and gender roles are themes that dictate the character development of Armand and Desiree. In This story, Armand is a highly dynamic character, and his actions are heavily dependent upon racial conflict. This internal conflict is seen throughout the story and it affects his relationship with his slaves as well as his wife, Desiree.
Her stories give a look into the life of some women actually go through. In Kate Chopin’s “Desiree’s Baby,” she uses several different themes including race and racism, love, and identity: foreshadowing, irony, flashbacks, and local color to show her readers that love can easily be used as a object and not real love. Kate Chopin shows the reader the theme of identity in “Desiree’s Baby”. In “Desiree’s Baby” Kate Chopin states, “Madame Valmonde abandoned every speculation but the one that Desiree had been sent to her by a beneficent Providence to be the child of her affection, seeing that she was without child of the flesh. For the girl grew to be beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere, - the idol of Valmonde” (Chopin 1).
The short story is used to show the problems that circle people of a mixed race, and how these people are being treated wrongly. Kate Chopin uses foreshadowing, symbolism, and imagery to reveal the misplaced social perception of race. Kate Chopin uses description that provides the reader with evidence of foreshadowing that being black on the Aubigny plantation is little better than being dead. This is apparent when Desiree’s mother comes
This suggested the stereotype of women were meant to cook and clean and basically be servants, they were not really treated much as people. Alcee taking over also suggested how women were there for their bodies and were objects for sex. Petry states that Chopin tended to incorporate attacks on adultery in her writings by using irony (Petry 18). Chopin uses such beautiful diction; she described every single things in such detail that you cannot help but feel what the characters are feeling. This is the reason people often respond to Chopin’s characters.
When Armand thought Desiree was black he kicked her out of the house with no remorse. “Do you want me to go?” “Yes, I want you to go” (3). A father and husband able to commit such a hateful action proves his conditional love for the close people in his life. This story depicts race as a strong enough force to break apart families and cause turmoil. Chopin demonstrates not only how men treat women, but also how important it was to be white in this post-civil war era.
During the era in which this short story was written, southern authors had a major influence on the way the culture was going to grow with racism, and also the way people loved each other. Kate Chopin, a traditional author who believed in southern ways, exemplifies how race and the characteristics of conditional love played a role in her story. In “Desiree’s Baby,” the author, Kate Chopin, provides an illustration of conditional love exemplified by the character, Armand, towards his wife and child; furthermore, Chopin provides instances of irony, elements of surprise, foreshadowing, and symbolism to prove that Armand’s love for both of them was not the unconditional love typically felt and portrayed by women, such as Desiree, during this era. Throughout the story, the readers notice different times where Chopin uses elements of surprise. One major surprise is when Armand opens the letter from his mother and finds out that he has African American in his bloodline.
With this bundle of letters is also one written from his mother to his father, saying, “ night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery “ (5) revealing that Armand is the one who is part black, by his mother 's ancestry (Chopin). The symbolism in a short story is a person, place, or thing that represents something beyond itself, most often something concrete or tangible that represents an abstract idea. (Glossary…2) Kate Chopin’s use of symbol help develop the themes in
Her beauty is what fires the “pistol shot” that makes Armand fall so quickly in love with her. He was taken aback by her beauty that he took no care of name, status, or reputation. It is easy for him to look into the eyes of the girl he loves and throw traditional societal values away, but impossible for him to do the same for his own child. While Desiree may lack high social status of her own, with his last name she is automatically given respect within the community. The child, on the other hand, no matter what the last name, will never be able to blend in or be accepted within their society.