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Themes of race and racism are central to this story. Note how Armand responds when he discovers that the child is of mixed ancestry - he assumes it is Desiree's unknown background that is responsible and therefore rejects both his wife and child because of this lack of "whiteness." Yet, ironically, at the end it is shown that the mixed ancestry comes from Armand and not from Desiree, thus establishing the fact that ideas of race and racism are man-made rather than essential realities.
It may help to begin a discussion of this by starting at the end. What hashappened to Desiree and her baby? What does Armand learn at the end of thestory? It might be safe to say that Desiree commits suicide and that Armand subsequently discovers evidence that links his heritage with the black race he seems to despise so much, but students may debate these points.
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