Realism and Feminism literature
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Kate Chopin was one of the best writers of the Realism and Feminism literature movement. Kate also wrote with a “local color” fashion to employ Cajun/Creole culture into her works that she always admired in Louisiana. Some of Chopin’s best work includes “The Awakening”, “The Story of an Hour”, “The Storm”, and “Desiree’s Baby”. Desiree’s Baby is a short story set before the American Civil War. The story is about a baby and a racial conflict between a wife and husband. Over time critics, scholars, and other writers have been writing about Chopin’s many subject matters and themes that she demonstrates.
Many themes are presented in “Desiree’s Baby including women’s search for selfhood, slavery and racism, love and blindness, irony, and feminism. One of the first major issues in the short story is Armand’s Pride. His pride is demonstrated clearly in the short story. Throughout the literature, Armand Aubigny’s pride is present as a man who was egoistic and had it all. According to the literary criticism by Gray H. Mayer, “Chopin depicts Armand Aubigny as a cruel, arrogant man who, likely, would never admit he was wrong” (Mayer). He felt like a king giving the fact that he came from a family who had a well-known name. Armand took advantage of his family’s name and used it in a way to empower himself to feel like a king aside from owning slaves.
He put his pride first ahead of everything, even Desiree, because he felt he had to protect the family name and the family history. Racism is the second major problem in the short story “Desiree’s Baby”. Giving the fact that Armand found out his identity and who he was, is quite ironic and, he assumed that Desiree was the main reason why their baby is mixed. Also, because Desiree was adopted and did not know what her ethnicity was Armand felt like her race, which he assumed was black, changed everything. Race is a color, not an origin and Desiree looked white and white characteristics, which were pale hands and grey eyes.
Even though she had an “obscure origin” (552), Desiree was thought that she was not the reason for the problem they had which was their baby being mixed. Armand was happy to be with Desiree and the baby, and Desiree was filled with happiness. Once Armand found out about the truth, his whole attitude changed as he saw his child grow. Armand’s treatment towards his family shows that he was ashamed. One side of this he shows no respect to anyone anymore. Armand does not act out on Desiree physically, but instead just ignores her. “Armand enters the room, but does not acknowledge Desiree and begins looking through some papers on a table. Desiree calls his name in a voice that would have encouraged sympathy from any human, but Armand still ignores her” (554).
Kate Chopin was a feminist and was known to depict the rising culture of feminism in her literature. In “Desiree’s Baby”, Desiree is this motherly, loving woman with her child, who lives for Armand. She shows to not have any emotions, saying she loved Armand desperately. The story represents the lack of say for women who had no control for their lives. Desiree is controlled by Armand’s force and dominance.
The conflict between the two shows how men in those times always blamed women for their faults, but instead not blaming themselves even slightly if it was their fault. The point state is important because Kate demonstrates Desiree standing up for herself finally, being strong and independent towards the end of the story. “She turned away like one stunned by a blow, and walked slowly towards the door, hoping he would call her back”. “Good-by, Armand,’ she moaned” (555).