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Could someone tell me what are usual female traits found in Desiree from "Desiree's Baby"?

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readeal3 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted September 11, 2012 at 10:43 PM via web

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Could someone tell me what are usual female traits found in Desiree from "Desiree's Baby"?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 12, 2012 at 1:12 AM (Answer #1)

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It is important to not deem character traits as either "usual" or "unusual"  when it comes to ethnicity, race, or gender. Instead, classify them as either: "stereotypical", "rare", or "based on the character's historical/social context". This moves away from labeling a character merely based on popular belief, allowing the reader to analyze the character based on what the author really wants to bring out of it.

This being said, what would define Desiree as a female character within her historical context would be a) the devotion that she feels for her husband, b) the fact that she is quite glad that her firstborn child is a a male and, c) the obvious need that she has for validation in spite of having the male child that every man of her generation dreams of.  Take a look at this excerpt when Desiree tells Mdme. Volmonde about Armand's opinion of her child being a male

Oh, Armand is the proudest father in the parish, I believe, chiefly because it is a boy, to bear his name; though he says not - that he would have loved a girl as well. But I know it isn't true. I know he says that to please me.

These are the words of a woman who is placing her gender in a secondary position. Within the historical context of the story, this would not be surprising considering that women had nearly no rights back in 19th century America. However, there is an added sense of insecurity in Desiree's comment to the modern reader; she really seems to condescend herself a little too much to the point of sensing that her happiness is the prelude to chaos.

Conclusively, the usual female traits found in Desiree, within her social context, are the importance placed on the male head of household, the fact that a male was their first born, and the doubt of her happiness despite of having a child; in an age where not many essential questions have been answered it is not surprising that Desiree opts for superstition or preludes of something chaotic to occur next. However, these are just symptoms acquired from her immediate society.

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