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Themes of Desiree's Baby Essay

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“Désirée’s Baby” is a story of love, prejudice and rejection, a story with noble beginnings that
slowly turns to reveal an uglier side of human relations. Armand, a wealthy
landowner of the plantation L’Abri in the ante-bellum south of Louisiana, is confronted by a family secret that has been hidden from him, even into adulthood.

The secret is scandalous for its day, and its consequences run deep into the fabric of society. No one told Armand of this secret. He discovers it by chance at the end of the story, when he finds the remnants of an old letter written by his mother to his father, the significance of which, and its revelations, makes us focus on the many tragic and ironic decisions made by him during this story. In the old south, bloodlines are very important to the status of a family and their social placement, so the “purity” of the family must be kept. This “purity” does not accommodate marriages of mixed race. Knowing this, Armand marries an old friend who he had known since he was eight when he moved to Louisiana from France with his father after his mother had died. She was a girl of no distinction, who had no history or reputation of family name like that of Armand, but despite this he fell in love “as if struck by a pistol shot”.(317). Others had warned Armand against marrying her, but he did not care for he was so swept away by her beauty. “He was reminded that she was nameless. What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana.” (316).

Tragedy comes early in the marriage with the birth of their first child. Although no one seemed to notice at first, by the time the child was three months old, neighbors and Armand himself noticed a change in the child. “W...


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...loved and so easily discarded to protect his family name, were innocent of his animosity and accusations. We can only imagine the heart wrenching turmoil he must have felt at that moment. Too, was the undeniable fact that his father had overcome similar odds and accepted the love of his mother even though she was black. Armand’s father had escaped from tradition and its shackles to stay with the woman he loved and yet still kept the family’s good name, where Armand had failed to do so.

The finding of this letter reveals to the reader the deeper consequences of decisions made based on prejudice and what others may think. All that Armand had done, giving up his marriage and condemning their child, burning all that reminded him of her and the baby, cursing God for his misfortune, had all come crashing in upon him by finding a simple letter with tragic “significance


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