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How does desiree's baby by Kate Chopin relate to local color, regionalism?Literature...

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jgomez2646 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 5, 2010 at 7:21 AM via web

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How does desiree's baby by Kate Chopin relate to local color, regionalism?

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:14 AM (Answer #1)

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This story is about mixed races. It takes place prior to the Civil War in Louisiana. The local color involved is the use of the French language and culture, as Louisiana had and still has to this day a strong French influence that dates back to the earliest days of the 13 colonies. Plus, the families live in plantations, the bayou is nearby and the people are racists, indicating a southern location during this time period.

Désirée is the adopted daughter of Monsieur and Madame Valmonde. They are Creoles, which are people of mixed race – very common in Louisiana at that time. A wealthy young man, Armand, falls in love with Désirée even though no one knows her racial origins. She was found in front of the Valmonde’s front gate. He claims he does not care, he loves her.

When she eventually marries Armand, she has a child and the child is obviously of mixed race. This would have been a huge disaster during this time period because the people were obviously prejudiced, especially these rich white people of French descent (they speak French in the story, the author states). Désirée decides to leave Armand to return to her mother. He approves of this because he assumes that it is SHE that has “black” blood, when in fact, he finds out at the end of the story that HE is the one that has “black” blood. The ending is sadly ironic because Désirée takes the child and disappears on the Louisiana Bayou (also evidence of local color) and is never seen again. Armand burns all of her things, the baby’s things, and it is then that he discovers a letter from his deceased mother that reveals the truth.

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