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In "Desiree's Baby," what does, "He was reminded that she was nameless," mean?

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andrewjar10 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 7, 2011 at 10:01 AM via web

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In "Desiree's Baby," what does, "He was reminded that she was nameless," mean?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 12, 2011 at 3:05 AM (Answer #1)

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This phrase comes at the beginning of the story when we are told of how Armand fell in love with Desiree "like a pistol shot." Although Valmonde, Desiree's guardian, does his best to remind Armand of Desiree's "obscure origin" (which refers to her probable illegitimate state), and the way that she does not have a "name" (referring to her uncertain parentage and lack of connections), Armand insists that he must marry her with no delay. Note his reasoning:

What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana?

Of course, there is intense irony in the phrase you have mentioned. Although he is cautioned by Valmonde as much as possible and her uncertain extraction, he still insists on marrying Desiree, only to find that the child they have together is obviously mixed race. Armand leaps to the conclusion that because of Desiree's background, she must be responsible for this, whilst all along it is actually his own hidden past that is responsible.

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