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Why did Madame Valmondé shudder at the sight of LÁbri when she got there to see...

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pau222 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 28, 2010 at 12:04 AM via web

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Why did Madame Valmondé shudder at the sight of LÁbri when she got there to see Desireé and the baby?

Also, would you consider this as an element by which the reader may anticipate the fact thatthere was something "wrong" with the baby?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 28, 2010 at 1:28 AM (Answer #1)

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Madame Valmonde had not seen Desiree and the baby for four weeks. When she reached L'Abri she shuddered at the first sight of it, as she always did.

Here are the reasons why:

Personification: "It was a sad looking place"

No mother-figure: ":...For many years had not known the gentle presence of a mistress"

It is delapidated: "The roof came down steep and black like a cowl, reaching out beyond the wide galleries that encircled the yellow stuccoed house. Big, solemn oaks grew close to it, and their thick-leaved, far-reaching branches shadowed it like a pall."

Slavery's impact: "Young Aubigny's rule was a strict one, too, and under it his negroes had forgotten how to be gay, as they had been during the old master's easy-going and indulgent lifetime."  When are negro slaves ever gay?

The unspoken dark secret: Armand is the love-child of her mother and a slave.

So says Enotes:

Armand, Désirée's "prince," is rich and handsome, and has a "kingdom," but he is:

associated with darkness from the outset. His estate is a place of terror and his house inspires fear [...] The house, in other words, functions as a symbolic projection onto the landscape of Armand's personality. Armand himself is described, with more than a hint of irony in the first adjective, as having a ''dark handsome face.''

But—the story suggests—this too may only be appearance. After Désirée comes he brightens up and begins to treat his slaves well. But the darkness is not just appearance—it is the reality. The animal bridegroom undergoes no real transformation. The prince is thus somehow unsuitable.

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