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Negative Effects Of Racism In Kate Chopin’s Desiree’s Baby

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Racism is a mentality that only brings about harm. Nothing good has ever come from being racist. For decades, people have tried to speak out against racism. One way of this would be writers writing about it. Many authors wrote stories to prove points about being racist. In “Desiree’s Baby”, Kate Chopin uses characterization to argue that racism is destructive.

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“Desiree’s Child” is a short story written in Louisiana in the 19th century. It begins with a woman named Lady Valmonde going to see her daughter, Desiree. Desiree had a child and Lady Valmonde travels to see it. On the way, Lady Valmonde reminisces about Desiree’s childhood. The story begins talking about Desiree’s life and how her soon-to-be mother had found her as an infant. Desiree grows up and then falls in love with a wealthy man named Armand. They have a happy marriage until Desiree has a child. This is where the story unexpectedly takes a turn for the worst. The baby was not white and this made Armand not want Desiree to be his wife anymore. Racism clouded his thoughts and he cast aside the woman he fell in love within an instant.

Armand is the character affected the most by racism. He falls in love with the main character, Desiree, and starts off very happy. Later on, the reader sees him start to change his attitude towards his wife. Desiree noticed this change in him and noted that “when he spoke to her, it was with averted eyes, from which the old love-light seemed to have gone out”. The reader then discovers that Armand thought that his wife is African-American because their baby was not white. He immediately believed that his wife was not white and lost all the affection he had for her. The end of the short story reveals that Desiree was indeed white and Armand was actually the mixed one. It was ironic how Armand kicked out Desiree because he thought she was not white when it was his own mother that was not white. Racism destroyed his life and the family that he had.

Racism had a negative effect on Desiree’s life as well. She had met the love of her life and was very happy. Armand and Desiree were such a happy couple and wanted to expand their family. The baby was not white and Armand immediately started to avoid Desiree. This affected her and she became very devastated due to his neglect. Armand gave her no attention and tried to avoid her as much as possible. Desiree eventually confronted him Armand about this problem. Instead of apologizing, he essentially kicked her out of the house. Desiree left the house to return to her mother’s house with the baby. Desiree’s family was destroyed in an instant just because her husband thought she was African-American.

The baby’s life will be majorly affected by racism. The child will grow up not knowing who his/her dad was. This can have some major effects on some children who do not have a fatherly figure in their lives. If Desiree chooses to tell her child why they had to leave, the child will think it was his/her’s fault that they were kicked out. That kind of guilt can have some long term effects.

Racism never has and never will be something that brings about good. It was a problem back then and is still a problem in our society today. People have continued to speak out about it and “Desiree’s Baby” is a good example of that. Kate Chopin used her characters in this short story to prove a point about racism and how it harms people and relationships. 

10 Jun 2021

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