Theme of Race in Desiree's Baby

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Desiree’s Baby by Fury Borges Diaz

As I read "Desiree’s Baby" by Kate Chopin, I couldn’t imagine living in an era where my value as a human being was determined by my skin color. I ask myself if I would have been considered an Afro-Cuban and treated like a slave just because my father is a "Quadroon" (1/4 African)? Would my father’s skin color, heritage and ethnicity make me an "Octaroon" (1/8 African) regardless of the fact that my skin is lighter than most Caucasian’s?

"Desiree’s Baby" by K. Chopin is set in the early nineteen hundreds, just before the American Civil War. In that era, slavery was legal and people who had traces of African descent were treated worse than insects. It was an era when a human’s value and social status were measured by the color of their skin. Chopin writes about the importance of social status and the importance of race versus love, family, dignity, pride and honor. In addition, the story is an example of what Armand was capable of and willing to give up in order to conserve his authority in a society dominated by whites despite his knowledge of being part Black.

There is much evidence in this story that leads me to the fact that Armand knew that he was part Black. For example, he came to America when he was eight years young right after his mother died in Paris (105), at that age a child knows the difference between being born black or white and the consequences that a person paid as a result for being African, which tells me that he had knowledge of his mother being a "Quadroon".

How could he not notice that he was biracial when his own mother’s skin complexion was much darker than his father? At the age of eight, I was able to recognize the

difference in skin colors. For insta...

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...e from being a white plantation owner. The birth of his baby and the discovery of his skin color represented the destruction of his marriage and an embarrassment to his social status. I can’t understand how a man could abandon his son and wife in order to maintain his status in society.

To keep things in perspective, this story about secrets and self-interest, is about love versus social status. Moreover, it’s also about race and the difference between being born black or white. It is also about discrimination towards Blacks and slavery in America. Most important, is about ignorant people that create categories for people according to the color of their skin, heritage and ethnicity.

Work Cited

Chopin, Kate. “Desiree’s Baby.” An Introduction to Literature. Eds.

Sylvan Barnet, William Burto, and William E. Cain.

15th ed. New York: Longman, 2008. 104-108

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