woman holding a baby walking out into the bayou

Désirée's Baby

by Kate Chopin

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Is there justice for Désirée in Kate Chopin's "Désirée's Baby"?

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In "Desiree's Baby" by Kate Chopin, no one wins.  There is little justice for anyone in the story.  Everyone loses something.

  • The Valmondes lose their daughter and grandchild.
  • Desiree loses her husband, pride, home, and possibly her life and her baby's life.
  • Armand, the villain of the story, loses his wife, baby, and his self-identity. 

When Desiree discovers that her baby has negroid features, she is devastated.  However, she does not believe that her husband will no longer love her or their child. When he tells her to leave, Desiree's grief and loss overwhelm her.  She takes her baby and disappears into the bayou never to be seen again. 

Since Desiree's heritage was unknown, it was only natural to assume that it was her ancestry to contributed to the baby's being bi-racial.  Armand had known about her unknown background because her father had prepared him before Armand and Desiree were married.  Armand said that it did not matter.  Of course, that was before Desiree gave birth to a mixed race child.  

Armand could have handled the entire situation like a gentleman rather than a spoiled child who did not get his way.  He lived for what others thought about him and his family.  He and his aristocratic family's reputation is on the line.  

He thought Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him; and felt, somehow, that he was paying Him back in kind when he stabbed thus into his wife's soul. Moreover he no longer loved her, because of the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and his name.

When Armand finds the note written by his mother to his father, he  discovers the real truth of the baby's ancestry.  It is Armand who is bi-racial, not Desiree.  In a perverted way, Armand has received a twisted form of justice.  His wife and baby do not matter to him when he thought that Desiree had black heritage.  Now he knows that it is he who caused the problem. At the very least, Armand has learned a hard lesson.  

Justice is defined as just behavior or treatment or the quality of being fair and reasonable. Armand certainly did not treat Desiree with justice.  On the other hand, Armand still has his home, his slaves, and his life.  It is doubtful that he will share the knowledge of his real mother with anyone. Yet, Desiree lost everything.

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