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Comparison of ‘Desiree’s baby’ and ‘The story of an hour’

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For my coursework I will compare both short story’s whom where written by a woman which was very unusual for that day and age. The author’s pen name was Kate Chopin. Kate Chopin was in fact born Katherine O’Flaherty to a prominent St. Louis family. People assume she wrote ‘Desiree’s baby’ somewhere around the end of the eighteen hundreds as the exact date is not known.

It is largely agreed that ‘The story of an hour’ was written in 1899. Both story’s have a theme of racism and carry a clear lable of the thaught of what a woman’s place in society in the antebellum period was. The Antebellum Period is often considered to have begun with the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, though it is sometimes argued to stretch back as early as 1812. I also have noticed some irony in the story a recurring theme in the writing style.

Desiree’s baby

The story was written during an era when racism was everywhere.It is thought that out of the two this story was written first.

It tells a tail of a wedding of a woman who’s backround surrounded in a shruod of mist to a wealthy slave owner who’s name has a long and solid history of prestige. When the couple has a child, contravercy erupts when it becomes apparent that the baby has a different colour skin to the parents. The mystery of the baby being different is first created by the grandmother whom takes the baby to the window to get a better look at the baby as it would have been dark in the room in 1899. Since Desiree’s origin is unknown her husband, Armand, blames the color of the child on Desiree rejecting her and the child for fear that this would damage his family name that had been built by his ansestors.

What I noticed in a little way was a small deal of irony in the way the story progressed.One of the intresting pieces that I noticed that regulary popped up in the story throughout was the refrence to objects that were white. The objects were things like soft white muslins and the white gowns that get burned by Armand Aubigny at the end. These are little yet obvious signs that she was the one that was truly black and not Armand.

Unfortunately, Desiree loves her husband so much that she feels that she cannot live without him. Evenmore she dreads that society would discard both her and her son and that they would become slaves. This would also mean she would sink further in society as the slaves would not like her because of her childhood of growing up with the people who dictate thier lives.

It is suggested by the writing she kills herself and her child in the bayou (A very wet and cold marshy area often populated with water reeds). Throughout this story the author tries to get the reader to have sympathy towards Desiree while displaying the different social issues of the time.

When Madame Valmonde is traveling over to L’ Abri to see her daughter Desiree and the baby. She says to herself “it seemed but yesterday that Desiree was little more than a baby herself”. This tells us that Desiree is a very young and vulnerable which is another attempt to make the reader feel a little sympathy for her.

The story of an hour

I am going to write aboult the second of the two story’s in this essay.

The first bit of irony I detected is in the way that the main character reacts to the news of the death of her husband, Brently Mallard. Before Louise’s reaction is revealed, Kate Chopin goes into detail how the widow feels by describing the world according to her view piont after the tragic news. Louise is said to “not hear the story as many women have heard the same.” It suggests that her sub-consious has a different take on the effects of her husbands death before her conscious. Rather, she accepts it and goes to her room to be alone. Now the reader starts to see the world through Louise’s eyes, a world full of new and pure life.

In her room, Louise sinks into a comfortable chair and looks out her window. Immediately the image of comfort seems to strike a odd tone for the aftermath of receving the news of her husbands demise. One reading this story should question the use of this word “comfortable” and why Louise is not beating the furniture instead.

Next, the newly widowed women is looking out of the window and sees spring and all the new life it brings. The descriptions used now are to push the scene as far away from death as possible. “The delicios breath of rain…the notes of a distant song…countless sparrows were twittering…patches of blue sky….” All these are beautiful images of life , the reader is quite confused by this most unusual foreshadowing until her reaction is explained.

The widow whispers “Free, free, free!” Louise realizes that her husband had loved her, but she goes on to explain that as men and women often inhibit each other, even if it is done with the best of intentions, they exert their own wills upon eachother. She realized that although at times she had loved him, she has regained her freedom, a state of beeing that all of God’s creatures strive for. Although this reaction is completely unexpected, the reader quickly accepts it because of Louise’s adequate explanation.

Louise grows excited and begins to fantasize about living her life for herself. She starts to dream aboult the reveloutions that the day had brought her and the fact she could lead he own life. The realization that she will be the envy of every married woman in the land because of her freedom to do what she wants with no-one to obey. With this realization, she wishes that “life might be long,” and she feels like a “goddess of Victory” as she walks down the stairs. This is an eerie forshadowing for an even more unexpected ending.

The reader has just accepted Louise’s reaction to her husband’s death, when the most unexpected happens; her husband is actually alive and he enters the room shocking everyone, and Louise especially, as she is shocked to death. The irony continues, though, because the doctors say she died of joy, when the reader knows that she actually died because she had a glimp of freedom and could not go back to living under her husband’s will again.

In the title, the “story” refers to that of Louise’s life. She lived in the true sense of the word, with the will and freedom to live for only one hour.

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