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Desiree’s baby

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This story is written in the turbulent times of the 19th century in the southern states of America, an area renowned for its plantations and slavery

Although Desiree’s appearance at Valmondes is a mystery she may have been abandoned by a Texan wagon train or she may have roamed away, she was found sleeping in the shadow of a large stone pillar. Desiree may have had a turbulent start in life but she grew up to be “beautiful, gentle, affectionate and sincere”.

Armand fell in love with her almost at once that day. He had known her since he was 8 yrs old when he had returned from Paris he likened falling in love and described it like “an avalanche” or” a prairie fire”.

On wanting to marry Monsieur Valmonde reminded Armand that Desiree’s origins were a little obscure and she was also nameless Armand looked in his eyes and did not care he was about to give her one of the oldest and proudest names in Louisiana.

Armand house was certainly not a home it lacked the touch of a mistress as his own mother had died in France many years earlier when he was eight, Armand like many of his era treated his slaves badly they were property to him not human beings. Just after the birth of Desiree’s baby she tells Madame Valmonde that Armand had mellowed out and had not punished a slave since his son’s arrival she also expressed that “Armand is the proudest father in the parish”. Desiree believed it was because she had born him a son to bear his name and continue his lineage.

Desiree was happy at the change in Armand’s behaviour the cruelty to the slaves had lessoned and even though she loved him he still frightened her she would never question what he said he had a strict rule unlike his father before him when the slaves where happy under his fathers easy going manner.

When Desiree’s and Armand’s baby was around 3 months old Desiree awoke with a sense of dread there had been a succession of unexplained visitors from far off neighbours Armand’s manner had become strange, he stayed away from home when he could and when at home he would kept away from Desiree and the child without any reason Armand’s treatment of the slaves was such that she thought the very spirit of Satan had took hold of Armand.

Armand’s treatment of his wife and child shows that there is little or no emotion left for them. Armand ignores them, enters the room without any acknowledgement of their presence when Desiree questions him we are told “he coldly but gently loosens her fingers from about his Armand thrust the hand away from him” without thought or question Armand tells her what he has already decided “The child is not white, it means that you are not white “beneath his declarations of love lies a hatred and loathing for non-white. Non-white, which he now believes his wife and son, are, if he were truly in love with Desiree would this really matter?

When Desiree held the letter from Madame Valmonde asking for herself and her son to return home Armand made no attempt to keep her in fact he encouraged her to go telling her “Yes I want you to go “Armand believed that God has dealt him a cruel and unjust blow, never for one minute did Armand believe had anything to do with him.

After Desiree’s and her sons death Armand burns and disposes of every trace of Desiree’s and their child’s existence this could also dispose of evidence that was in fact Armand who was the one of mixed race and not Desiree, Armand did not need such a big fire he only need to burn his mothers letter.

I find Armand Aubigny to be very typical of this era, arrogant, racist, insensitive, and narrow-minded and believing because he is white he has to be right. Armand is also a man who’s heritage is unknown to him perhaps had his father told him of his relationship with his mother the tragic events of his own marriage may never have happened he wrongly tried, judged and sentenced Desiree blinded by colour devoid of compassion. A small minded embittered man governed by what people thought instead of what he felt.

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