The following two questions, based on the story, are good discussion questions. Each requires students to consider character behavior and the motivations for the behaviors.
- “Why do you think there was an ‘air of mystery among the blacks’ and frequent visitors to L'Abri about 3 months after Desiree's baby was born?”
- “Why was it assumed that Desiree was the reason her child was not white?”
Question #1 might prove interesting because it concerns the reactions of others (black and white) when they begin to notice the “coloring” of Desiree’s baby. Of course, “the blacks” are concerned about the consequences since they realize that a bi-racial baby will bring violent and brutal repercussions to anyone who might be accused of fathering Desiree’s child. The “frequent visitors” are local whites who have likely heard the rumors regarding the baby and have come to gain a first-hand view of the child.
Question #2 is an excellent discussion question. Tangential discussion issues include adoption, child abandonment, race relations, and social and economic class systems. Although Desiree’s parents loved her dearly, her unknown ancestry leaves her heritage open to speculation. Unlike Armand, her parentage was entirely unknown. Naturally, then, when the baby appears to be bi-racial, everyone assumes that Desiree must have had black relations.