Desiree's Baby

2007 words 9 pages
Akhil Cherukupally
Professor Shamiryan
English 102
24 July 2013
Desiree: A Symbol for Victorian Woman
Gender roles were very much defined in the Victorian era and there was not much room open to interpretation. Men and women both had clear roles in society and very rarely did any gender step outside that position within the social hierarchy. These roles were defined by the sex and color of a person. Kate Chopin exemplifies these roles very accurately within her story, Desiree’s Baby. In the short fiction story, Desiree’s Baby, the author Kate Chopin incorporates many motifs, symbols, and imagery to describe gender assumptions and racial roles for both men and women in the 1800s by narrating the story of an adopted mother named
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When it is known that Desiree’s baby has some mixed blood in him, the blame immediately goes to Desiree as being a woman who has mixed blood within her. Chopin tries to discredit that blame by hinting that the foundations of the house is yellow and therefore the bloodline that makes up the household is yellow, or mixed.
As mentioned earlier, women in this era had little to no rights and therefore were often inferior and subservient to men. As soon as Armand came to know that his son was part black, he said to Desiree, “the child is not white, it means you are not white” (Chopin 244). Armand immediately points the finger at his wife Desiree, the woman. Since woman were not on the same level or status as men, “men justified their actions with their supremacy and expected women to tolerate the abuse without demur” (Malheiro). Armand had the authority to accuse his wife of such allegations purely on the basis that he was a man and she was a woman. Also, because Desiree’s lineage was in question, it made it easy for Armand to place the blame of having a mixed baby on his wife rather than himself. It never occurred to Armand once that he, the great and prideful Arbigny, could be tainted with the blood of an African. If anyone were to sin within this era, it would be the women because the men are far superior. That is why Desiree was to first to be blamed. In this era, “men were free to treat women any way they wanted without any shame” (Historical Analysis). And as such,


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