Explain the role of Madame Volmonde in "Desiree's Baby" by Kate Chopin.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Desiree's Baby" by Kate Chopin, the main character Desiree was deserted by her real family.  The theory was that her family had left her on purpose.  The family had been seen in a covered wagon crossing a river into Texas.  Desiree was about 1 1/2 years old. 

Monsieur and Madame Valmonde either literally or figuratively adopt Desiree.  When Monsieur Valmonde held Desiree in his arms, she looked at him and cried.."Dada." That was all that Desiree knew how to say when they found her.  For the next sixteen years, the couple raise Desiree as their own, particularly since they could not have children of their own.

The Valmondes really knew nothing about Desiree except that she was beautiful, kind, generous, and loving. They both love her very much.

When Armand wants to marry Desiree, Monsieur Valmonde warns him that they know nothing about her background, but Armand is too much in love to care. He marries Desiree and are happy and very much in love....until the baby is born.

When Desiree has her baby, Madame Valmonde visit Desiree and notices the features of the child.  Remember that this is her only child and now her only grandchild. She says nothing to Desiree about her thoughts.

Madame Valmonde bent her portly figure over Desiree and kissed her, holding her an instant tenderly in her arms.  Then she turned to the child.

"This is not the baby!" she exclaimed, in startled tones.

When Armand tells Desiree that he knows that the child is not white and  she is not white, Desiree is distraught.  She writes to her mother telling her what has happened.  Madame Valmonde writes her back and tells her to bring the baby and come home. Back to the place where everyone loves you for who you are. 

As Desiree leaves Armand's house, she is dressed only in her nightgown and is shoeless.  The baby is with her. She walks through the fields along the river.  The reader does not know what happens to her. Hopefully, she makes it back to her mother's home and picks up the pieces of her life.