How does the narrator’s description of L’Abri, from Madame Valmonde’s point of view, develop the mood of the text?

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Armand Aubigny's plantation, L'Abri, compels Madame Valmonde to "[shudder] at the first sight of it [...]." The narrator describes the property as a "sad looking place," which had not been inhabited by a woman or affected by the "gentle presence" of one for many years because Armand's mother had died and been buried abroad. The narrator says that the "roof came down steep and black like a cowl," like a hood, which makes me think of the Grim Reaper, a symbol of death, an impression only heightened by the description of the "solemn oaks" and the shadow they cast, "like a pall" over the property. A pall is a cloth laid over a coffin, another clear connection to death. These associations as well as their affect on Madame Valmonde contribute to the development of the dark mood, as though something menacing or tragic will occur in this place. It is foreboding, and this, of course, foreshadows the tragedy that awaits Desiree and her baby.

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In French, "L'Abri" means "shelter." Yet it certainly doesn't appear to be a haven of peace and security whenever Madame Valmondé visits the plantation. She shudders at the very sight of it; there's a constant air of gloom and decay about the place, a place where there is no life, no happiness, no sense of joy.

Chopin's detailed description of L'Abri indicates just what kind of living environment Désirée inhabits. It also foreshows the great unhappiness that she will soon have to endure. Désirée has recently had a baby; this is a time of joy for both her and her husband, Armand. But L'Albi's dark, joyless, brooding ambience provides us with a hint that this happiness cannot last. The somber atmosphere of the place ominously foreshadows the shocking revelations to come, revelations that will turn the Aubignys' lives upside-down.

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