Essay on Desiree's Baby
In the story "Desiree's Baby" we see a deep contrast in Armandґs emotions, and ways of expressing these emotions. It says near the start that “Armand is the proudest father in the parish” and that “he hasn’t punished one of them” to “an awful change in her husbands manner, which she dared not ask him to explain” and “the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his dealings with the slaves.” This implies that he was very happy then he changed to very angry and upset. He also changes his manner towards Desiree, as if she has a disease, he avoids her when ever possible and talks to her with “averted eyes”. The strange thing about this is that Armand’s mother is Black (but he didn’t know it at the time) but surely Armand’s father would have taught Armand to be at the very least respectful to Black people.
When Armand refers to the baby he uses the word “the”, this shows that he does not associate himself with the baby and feels emotionally unattached, we assume this is because the baby is black, this shows his deep racism against black people. Also his dramatic change of attitude may be because he had formed an unconscious emotional bond with the baby and as it says the baby and Desiree give him a “unconscious injury”. Meaning that they betrayed him. When Armand talks to Desiree knowing that the baby is not totally white, he does it very coldly, like he was numb from pain, this is also expressed when it says “in a voice which must have stabbed him, if he was human” meaning that he was emotionally void or unattached. Armand rejects the baby because he feels hurt or betrayed by the baby, which he put his faith and love in the baby, and the baby, through no fault of its own, hurt him and humiliated him. He also put his faith into Desiree, this may sound like it is unemotional but its not, by marrying lower down the relative hierarchy and then, in his mind, she brought “unclean” blood into the family.
I feel some of the sympathy in this story should lie with Armand because (even though its because of his own actions) he loses his wife, his baby and then has to deal with his hatred of himself. Desiree seems to have an emotional roller coaster in the story she goes from having “a glow that was happiness itself” to being “miserable enough to die”. Which shows another contrast in the story it shows the difference between Desiree that is soft and non-violent just bottles things up inside, and Armand who will regardless act upon what he feels.
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