Racism Kills

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Racism dates back thousands and thousands of years back to the caveman times. In the short story “Desiree’s Baby”, Kate Chopin shows how discrimination by skin color can affect people. Desiree was abandoned and raised by Madame Valmonde. Armand, the father of the baby, was a member of the most notable families in Louisiana. He falls in love with Desiree and marries her. After they have a baby, their relationship quickly corrodes. A few months later, Armand realizes the baby’s skin has a darker tint than usual. He accuses Desiree of being black. Armand tells Desiree he wants her to leave so Desiree takes the baby and “disappears among the reeds and willows that grew thick along the banks of the deep, sluggish bayou” (Chopin 91) and never returns. Armand finds out that Desiree is black when he reads a letter that her mother sent her that read “she belongs to the race which is cursed with the brand of slavery” (Chopin 92). The story’s ironic ending has a connection with the story’s setting, imagery, and Chopin’s use of similies.
The setting has a major role to the ironic ending because it takes place in antembellum South where blacks are not treated equally to whites. There are several hints at where and when the story takes place. First, Armand’s last name, Aubigny, was “one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana” (Chopin 89) which tells us it takes place in Louisiana. Also, Chopin says that Armand owns a plantation and many slaves which wouldn’t have been possible after the Civil War times showing that the story takes place during the antebellum period. The name of Armand’s plantation, L’Abri, is also ironic because it means “the shelter” in French which is ironic for Desiree because it is a bad place for her not a good place. Chopin explains how “there was something in the air menacing her peace”. The story wouldn’t take place in any other time period or location because if it did, Desiree wouldn’t be discriminated for being black, therefore wouldn’t of run of into the bayou along with the baby.
Chopin’s use of imagery leads up to the irony at the end of the story the greatest because Chopin contrasts black and white skin colors.

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"Racism Kills." 123HelpMe.com. 19 Jun 2018
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First, Chopin explains how Armand’s plantation is all full of dark colors. “The roof came down steep and black...branches shadowed it like a pall” (Chopin 89). This initial imagery shows Armand’s control. When Armand’s father ran the plantation, he was very nice to the slaves and treated them humanly, but when Armand took the plantation over he was very harsh and cruel, “under it, his negroes had forgotten how to be gay” (Chopin 89). Armand has a “dark, handsome face” (Chopin 90). This symbolizes Armand’s hatred and is a foreshadow to the end when it turns out Armand is black. Desiree, on the other hand, is always surrounded by light colors. For example, when she is leaving the plantation towards her death, she was still wearing a thin, white garment, and, “her hair was uncovered and the sun’s rays brought a golden glean from its brown meshes” (Chopin 91). The colors they are surrounded by also illustrate their personalities. While Desiree, who is “beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere” (Chopin 88) is surrounded by light, Armand, is “imperious and exacting” (Chopin 90) is surrounded by dark.
The similes that Chopin uses also leads up to support the ironic ending by showing Armand’s emotional changes and Desiree’s feelings of rejection. Most of the similes to describe Armand’s actions happen when he falls in love with Desiree. Even though they knew each other since he was eight years old, he didn’t fall in love with her until they were in their twenties. Chopin explains that sudden love, “as if struck by a pistol shot” (Chopin 88) was the way everyone in Armand’s family fell in love. Two similes that explain Desiree’s shock add to the ironic twist at the end of the story. First, Desiree realizes her baby is not white and her blood, “turned like ice in her veins” (Chopin 90). Later, Armand tells Desiree he wants her to leave and Desiree turns away “like one stunned by a blow” (Chopin 91). This is how Chopin’s use of similes connect to the ironic ending.
The main conflict in “Desiree’s Baby” is ultimately race. This story’s use of similes and imagery, along with the setitng, make for a good ironic ending in which Armand is really black not Desiree. Therefore, racism kills.


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