What is the mood of "Desiree's Baby" by Kate Chopin?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is certainly a sense of foreboding in the story. We learn of Desiree's sad beginnings, awakening in the arms of a stranger, in a strange place, and crying for her "'Dada.'" Whether she accidentally wandered away from her parents or was abandoned there, both are quite sad. Then, the description of Armand Aubigny's love is somewhat alarming as well; the narrator says that the "Aubignys fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot." This simile, comparing love to a gun firing, is rather off-putting and makes us somewhat uneasy because of the violence associated with it; a gun firing is not a gentle, affectionate, intimate sound—it is startling and destructive.

Next, we learn that Madame Valmonde has not been to visit Desiree in some four weeks—that's a lot of time for something to go wrong—and when she arrives at the plantation, "she shuddered at the first sight of it, as she always did. It was a sad looking place . . . " The fact that the mere sight of the estate makes Desiree's adopted mother feel so strange is another sign that danger, or some threat to Desiree's happiness, is lurking. Due to clues like these, the story has a foreboding, menacing kind of mood.

janeyb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that "Desiree's baby" is a tragedy, the author is sure that you know that it will not end happily by the hints she gives, for example, when Desiree's father reminds Armand that Desiree's background is not known. In that way, the mood is intense and anticipatory, as a reader, you're sort of always waiting to see what's going to go wrong, even when the current action is happy.