Where is there foreshadowing in the short story 'Desiree's Baby'?

Expert Answers
cneukam1379 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the first indications that this story will not end happily occurs when Madame Valmonde arrives at L'Abri (French for "shelter"), the estate where Desiree and Armand live:

Madame Valmonde "shuddered at the first sight of it....It was a sad looking place...The roof came down steep and black like a cowl, reaching out beyond the wide galleries that encircled the yellow stuccoed house. Big, solemn oaks grew close to it, and their thick-leaved, far-reaching branches shadowed it like a pall."  

The imagery in this quote reveals the darkness of a place that is ironically called a shelter, and Madame Valmonde mentions the "pall" that is cast over the house, that being a term related to death.  

Another clue that things are amiss in the story next occurs when Madame Valmonde first sees the new baby, when the boy is one month old:

Madame Valmondé had never removed her eyes from the child. She lifted it and walked with it over to the window that was lightest. She scanned the baby narrowly, then looked as searchingly at Zandrine, whose face was turned to gaze across the fields.

While Madame Valmonde does not say anything aloud, she first looks at the baby then at the quadroon nurse, Zandrine, "searchingly."  While it does not explicitely state it in the story, Zandrine is considered of mixed race, which was looked down upon in this era.  So, Madame Valmonde seems to be questioning the shade of her grandson's skin, a problem that comes to a head later in the story.  

The nature of skin color is another hint to the end of the story.  When Armand suddenly changes his demeanor as if "the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him," it is because the baby's skin color has darkened, and because Desiree does not know of her past, Armand blames her.  However, Desiree points out, "'Look at my hand; whiter than yours, Armand.'"  This is another clue that in fact, Armand's family background is actually to blame instead of Desiree's.