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Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin

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Desiree’s Baby’ written by Kate Chopin represents one man’s domination over a woman. Armand was a plantation owner and a descendant of the Aubigny family, which holds “one of the oldest and proudest (names) in Louisiana”. In contrast, Desiree was adopted into a family without a valued, respected name. Thus resulting to Armand believing that he was superior and had total possession/power over humble Desiree. The short story, ‘Inem’ composed by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, was set in Indonesia and it displays a young girls encounter with marriage and sexual intercourse.

These two specific short stories were written during different times periods, nonetheless, there are numerous similarities regarding the injustice of woman treatment. ‘The Custom’ written by Charlie Patsauq illustrates a ghastly ritual practiced in the far North of Canada. In Inuit life, it was considered acceptable for elderly people (who were generally useless ‘mouths to feed’) to be abandoned when the village moved. The boy’s were unable to abandon their aged father, however, their father’s encouragement and ‘eagerness’ to die helped the boys obey the custom.

The characters in these stories contradict certain customs and beliefs; nevertheless, in contrary to their individualistic opinions, they still obeyed and respected the beliefs of their culture. The young boys hanged their father; Inem abidingly obeyed his husband’s commands; and Desiree refused to disagree with Armand’s fictitious interruption regarding her heritage. Culture and beliefs influence one’s behavior and decisions. Armand’s decision, to heartlessly isolate himself from his wife and child, was influenced by his culture’s perspective on colored people.

This story was set when slavery was still taking place; therefore acceptance of colored people was unheard of. Slaves had no legal rights, and dislike of blacks infiltrated throughout France. His society blindly believed that their beliefs and customs were ‘the finest’, and anyone who choose to lead a different life was immoral. His society’s prejudice and naive judgments regarding colored people influenced his decision. Desiree was a young woman of no merit, who had no history or status similar to that of Armand, but despite this he fell in love “as if struck by a pistol shot”.

One ought to question Armand’s love for Desiree. He was willing to marry her, regardless of her unknown past and status in society. However, after the birth of their quadroon son, ‘the old love-light seemed to have gone out’. If Armand sincerely loved innocent Desiree, he would rise above racism and the attitudes of his culture. It takes distinctive situations to overcome racism, and empathy from people who know no barrier of creed, caste and colour. Armand’s father had overcome comparable odds and accepted the love of his mother even though she was black.

His unconditional love for his wife was genuine, and he was able to withstand his culture’s outlook on colored people. Armand’s father had escaped from tradition and resided with the woman he loved and yet still kept his family’s good name, whereas Armand had failed to achieve this. A study discovered that the first flush of love does not sustain as emotions settle down. Should one defend Armand’s prejudice decision and use scientific research to explain the complex human emotion, ‘love’? no. Madame Valmonde was Desiree’s non-biological mother. She refused to believe in her culture’s representation of colored people.

When Desiree’s husband told her to leave, her mother said to her, ” Come home to Valmonde; back to your mother who loves you”. Madame Valmonde knew precisely why her husband had discarded Desiree, however, she still allowed Desiree to come home. Madame Valmonde still had a tremendous amount of love for Desiree. Thus emphasizing that it definitely does not take blood to form a strong attraction and that no matter what, unconditional love will continuously help one get through difficult periods. If Armand loved Desiree unconditionally, he would be able to overcome racism and other similar beliefs, which will detach himself from his wife.

One has to have the willpower, strength, and courage to go against one’s specific culture beliefs. The young boys in ‘The Custom’ were unable to do that because their overall decision would affect the survival and continuity of their community. Towards the end in ‘Desiree’s Baby’, the discovery of the letter exposes the reader to the deeper consequences of his decision created, based on discrimination and what others may assume. Armand had erased his marriage and condemned their child, destroyed all that reminded him of his wife and little one, and cursed ‘the Almighty’ for his bad fortune.

All that he had done came crashing in upon him by reading a simple letter. Armand, a quadroon man, had caused the death of two innocent people, one who was madly in love with him. In addition, he blamed his wife, ‘the idol of Valmonde’ for carrying colored genes. Throughout his life, he demonstrated great dislike of colored people. Nonetheless, in actual fact, he himself was colored! His influential pious community helped probe his beliefs, regarding black people. Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s “Inem” is distinctive, in that the child Muk tells the story.

The reader is able to receive a realistic analysis of Inem’s tragic struggle for dignity and respect, through the eyes of a child. There is no fairytale ending to this specific story because Inem wastes the remainder of her life living the shame of being a divorced woman, and being beaten and snubbed by numerous individuals. In her society, divorced woman are regarded as impure and a burden to their parents. Presently, in Judaism, divorce is common aspect of Jewish lives. ‘The Almighty’ is distraught by human failure, however divorce is preferable to perpetuating a home filled with hatred.

In Judaism, the legal grounds may not be adultery; they can be as simple as incompatibility. Contradictory beliefs on the subject of divorce are evident, when one discusses Judaism and Inem’s Indonesian culture. Inem is a slave child, and had not experienced the innocence of childhood. She never experienced fallin’in love -the ‘funny’ feeling, the first date, and the sentimental nonsense.

Who could resist the temptation of literally being mentally ill? The narrator emphasizes the resounding fact that she is merely an innocent child, through this speech: Yes, it’ll be fun, I know it will! They’ll buy me all sorts of nice clothes… Oh, I’ll like that! ” Inem cannot grasp the consequences of becoming a child-bride. Inem was not developed emotionally or physically, therefore was incapable of satisfying her husbands sexual drive. Inem’s society had strained maturity and socialization upon children, even before they attain sexual maturity. In conclusion, these stories have one common, obvious theme: culture. The majority of the characters presented in these stories had opinions that run contrary to their social norm.

For example, in ‘Inem’ Gus comments, ” I hope nothing bad happens to that little girl”. Gus, Muk’s mother, is unable to make any concrete changes to this practice, because of the lack of power and authority woman had in this society. Similarly, Desiree had no freedom to speak and was incapable of expressing herself. The above stories discussed, emphasizes the absolute need to abolish traditional attitudes, regarding woman treatment, child marriage, and colored citizens. Many of the characters involved feel a sense of dislocation, however, are unwilling to contradict and enforce changes to certain beliefs.

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