In "Desiree's Baby" Chopin explores Southern racism and the widespread abhorrence of miscegenation (the mixture of races, specifically the cohabitation or marriage between a white person and a member of another race). The story focuses on the life of a young woman named Desiree who was adopted into a wealthy Louisiana family and who grows up and marries a wealthy Louisiana plantation owner. When Desiree and her husband Armand have a child who appears to have black blood, Armand accuses Desiree of having mixed ancestry. As an adopted female, she has no power to argue with him. Then the plot takes an unexpected twist, and the tragedy that results leads to a brutal understanding of the personal degradations that arise from a social system based on white supremacy and the subjugation of women and people of color.
The truth Chopin reveals at the end of her story makes Armand's life and his condemnation of Desiree tragically ironic. "Desiree's Baby" dramatizes Armand's anger and racism and the plight of Desiree, who has no identity apart from her husband. Armand values his prestigious name more than his wife, and he considers her delivery of a black child the ultimate disgrace. The accusation of mixed ancestry disrupts the marriage and reevaluates Desiree's worth. Thus, the story's focus allows Chopin to portray the legacy of the slavery system, the force of sexual passion, and the confused sense of honor that ruled these characters' lives.