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What is the social message that "Desiree's Baby" portrays?

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msmakeupmaven22 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 15, 2011 at 6:44 AM via web

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What is the social message that "Desiree's Baby" portrays?

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

Posted July 15, 2011 at 8:20 PM (Answer #1)

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The overwhelming force of this great story is to present the concept of racism as being something that is completely man made, and therefore only having the power that men ascribe to it. Of course, this message is conveyed through the use of grim and bitter irony. Let us remember that throughout the story Armand is supremely confident of the purity of his bloodline. In contrast to Desiree's obscure origin, Armand is said to emerge from "one of the oldest and proudest" families of Louisiana. Thus it is that when his child begins to display a darker skin colour, Armand automatically assumes that this "fault" comes from Desiree's unknown background and not his own. The fact that his child, and by extension, his wife, are no longer considered "white" causes him to not love Desiree anymore, "because of the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and his name." His rejection of his wife and child results in their death, which leads to his own discovery of his mixed background. When he discovers that the "fault" came from him rather than his wife, Chopin makes it clear that the concept of race and the racism that emerges from such ideas, are a creation of humans alone rather than existing independently as given facts or realities of life and the universe. The colour of our skin only has as much value and importance as we choose to give it. This is the social message that this story presents us with.

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