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Inferences Lead to Tragedy: Irony that Ruins in Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby

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Kate Chopin utilizes irony in “Desiree’s Baby” to warn people of the dangers of racism and how it can victimize not only the hated race, but also the one who is racist. “Desiree’s Baby” is a tale about a young slave owner, Armand, with a well-respected name in Louisiana. He marries an adopted woman named Desiree and once they have their child, he notices that the baby has black features. He assumes that since he does not know his wife’s racial background that his wife must have some sort of black heritage, but it is his “inferences [that] lead to tragedy." Armand did not want his wife to be around because of her assumed race, so she took the baby and left. Months later when Armand is burning Desiree and the baby’s possessions, he finds a letter written by his mother stating, “But, above all…night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.” Chopin’s irony was embedded in the fact that Armand hated who he is without knowing it. He assumed that his wife was the one with the black genes and that she needed to leave. Armand lost everything he had and loved because of the hate he held in his heart. The author proved through her use of irony that Caucasian and black people are the same. Besides physical features, it is impossible to tell from which race one has descended.
Chopin consistently employs irony in her short story. The title specifically describes the baby as Desiree’s, not his. After Desiree leaves with their baby Armand takes no ownership for either his son or his wife when asked about his family. He does not want to acknowledge them for the very fact that ...

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...mportantly, he learns that there is no difference between white people and black people. He finally understood this when he realized that he had no knowledge of his own black heritage and that he had lived his whole life as a white man. Chopin effectively illustrated the dangers of making presumptions and used irony as a tool to accomplish this.

Works Cited
Chopin, Kate. "Desiree's Baby." In An Introduction to Literature Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, by Sylvan Barnet, William Burto and William E. Cain, edited by Joseph Terry, 82-86. New York, NY: Pearson Longman, 2006.

Mayer, Gary H. "A Matter of Behavior: A Semantic Analysis of Five Kate Chopin Stories." et Catera, 2010: 94-96.

Pegues, Dagmar. "Fear and Desire: Rgional Aesthetics and Colonial Desire in Kate Chopin's Portrayals of the Tragic Mulatta Stereotype." The University of North Carolina Press, 2010: 1-12.
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