What are some stereotypical male traits found in Armand in the story "Desiree's Baby" by Kate Choplin?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Upon conducting a close reading of "Desiree's Baby" by Kate Chopin, there seems to be a salient trait in the author's style where she describes the character of Armand with more specificity than even Desiree's own character.

Evidence of this comes as soon as Armand's character is described by Desiree as being the "proudest father" of his firstborn child, who is a male. However, Chopin conspicuously throws in some clues about this man that throw a shadow of doubt upon him.

Marriage, and later the birth of his son had softened Armand Aubigny's imperious and exacting nature greatly. ...When he frowned she trembled, but loved him...Armand's dark, handsome face had not often been disfigured by frowns since the day he fell in love with her.

Judging by Chopin's own offered description, we can conclude that Armand was, first and foremost somewhat of a chauvinist. Not only is he imperious and exacting, like the text says, but his happiness of having a male child, combined with his imposing persona leads to the assumption that he took his male role quite seriously and proudly.

As a man, Armand looks eager to show off his powerful status. We know things because he abuses his slaves, punishing them at one point as if, quote "the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him".

Finally, Armand's chauvinism leads him to vanity and pride. Having a black child makes him feel embarrassed about himself and his wife. He literally invites his wife to leave his home and go back to her parents. Without mercy, he basically tells her that being black is bad enough to lose his love just like that.

Although Armand represents a minority within the strata of men, that minority which he represents is one that values their manhood upon superficial and shallow elements. Armand is not a good man, at all. He is made out to look like one only because Desiree loves him and because he had offered her his love once.