Chopin sets the context for her argument by Placing Désirée in an environment where she can be made black easily, but with significant consequences. Despite Désirée’s ability to effortlessly assimilate into southern society, taking on the role of the “beautiful, gentle, affectionate and sincere” southern belle, the story never loses sight of her “obscure origin” (#). As a result, Désirée is not given the opportunity to prove h...
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...ore absurd if disproven in an environment characterized by heavy racial tensions. If the short story is read as an indictment of the one-drop rule in spite of racism, it may be Chopin’s attempt to halt a system where anyone can be made black, placing white individuals at risk. However, it is also capable of taking on a more timeless, didactic meaning. The reading, rather than a criticism purely of the one-drop rule, stands to force the reader to question the legitimacy of prevailing social mores, even those that may appear to correspond with the dominant opinions of the time. Whether racism was utilized by Chopin ironically or was merely an unavoidable attribute of her setting is irrelevant; its presence highlights the absurdity of hypodescent categorization, which would expand to support the anti-miscegenation and Jim Crow Laws that defined the postbellum years.
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