Man’s Domination Over Woman in Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby
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Man’s Domination Over Woman in Desiree’s Baby
Differences between people create conflicts between people. This is especially true between men and women, since throughout history society has viewed women as subservient to men. Kate Chopin’s feminist short story, Desiree’s Baby, illustrates man’s domination over woman. Since Desiree meekly accepts being ruled by Armand, and Armand regards Desiree as his possession, the master/slave relationship that exists between Armand and Desiree is undeniable.
Armand believes that since he possesses a superior social position than does Desiree, he is at liberty to be master over her. As a plantation owner and a descendant of the Aubigny family which bears "one of the oldest and proudest [names] in Louisiana" (316), Armand owns tens and hundreds of slaves. In contrast Desiree is adopted into a family without a respected name. Since, "Young Aubigny's rule was a strict one”, he not only treats the slaves as if they were animals, but also treats Desiree as but a beautiful possession. Although Desiree truly loves Armand, the relationship is not reciprocal, which is evident by the fact that Armand has affairs with other women. Desiree’s love for Armand elevates him in the relationship, while Armand’s domination over Desiree only makes her more submissive.
Armand’s ego exhibits his qualities as a master. His respected name, large plantation, and position as a master over slaves inflate his pride. The fact that, “Armand is the proudest father in the parish… because it is a boy, to bear his name” (317), illustrates that Armand does not truly love his family; instead he sees them as possessions – extensions of his property. To Armand the baby serves the purpose of honoring him by ...
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...e denies both her and the child, she loses personhood and therefore commits suicide and infanticide. The word, desperately, that describes her love for Armand illustrates how truly attached she is to him. When Armand accuses Desiree of being black and disowns her because he believes this, Desiree completely loses her identity. Without Armand she thinks, “I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy, and live.” (319).
It is not only Armand’s dominance, but also Desiree’s meek subservience that kills Desiree and the baby, while ruining Armand’s life. In Armand and Desiree’s already teetering master/slave relationship, a trivial conflict over race is the final blow that splits them up. Yet it was the difference between the perceptions of themselves and each other, set in place by a male dominated society, that doomed their relationship even from the beginning.