In the short story Dsires Baby, by Kate Chopin, surprise plays a very important role. Although the story has a surprise ending it can still have a second look with interest. While rereading the story I look for the details, which foreshadow the ending, that were missed the first time reading the story. But when I started to look for hints of foreshadowing I found that Chopin is doing more than tell us a story about a couple. She is trying to convey a message to the reader. Dsires Baby is like an intricate Aesops fable, or a fable for adults. Also an analysis of the characters helps us understand the story and its meaning. The main character, which presents the conflict in the story, is
Armand Aubigny. To fully understand the story and its elements we must look carefully at Armand and his erratic behavior.
One of the major aspects of Armand is his unpredictability. First he falls in love with Dsire without any sign, later he changes his moods back and forth in how he treats his own slaves, and how he treats his own wife, Dsire. Marriage, and later the birth of his son had soften Armand Aubignys imperious and exacting nature greatly.(Chopin, 82). And then after about three months he automatically changed. Then a strange, an awful change in her husbands manner, which she dared not ask of him to explain.(Chopin 82). Armand is constantly changing his character, and it scares not only Dsire but the reader too, because we have no idea what he will do next or why.
After the story is reread, the reader learns to distrust and in a way deal with Armands behavior. We get used to him and we dont expect too much from him. That was the way all of the Aubignys fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot. (81). This quote not only refers to how the Aubignys fall in love but how they go about solving their problems. The Aubigny family is very stubborn and one-track minded. When there is a problem to be resolved it is their way or no way. When Armand saw that his child was black, his only explanation was that Dsire was black. He didnt even think about the other possibilities. That is probably why Madame Valmond wrote back to Dsire to come home, because it is no use to argue with Armand.
Not only does the reader have to cope with Armands stubbornness, but also so does Dsire. Dsire loves Armand so much, that when Armands mood suddenly changed she felt as if someone had stabbed her in the heart. She was confused of her husbands in-human behavior. She pleaded to him to show some feeling towards her. Everyday was harder for her to get through as she saw less of her husband.
He thought Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him; and felt; somehow, that he was paying Him back in kind when he stabbed thus into his wifes soul. Moreover he no longer loved her, because of the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and name. (Chopin 83).
He could not bear the sight of her after he had the notion that Dsire was the reason of the childs color. Not only was he concerned with the childs color but with the fact that Dsire brought shame upon to him and his name for falling in love with a Negro. He might have loved his wife but he didnt love her more than himself. The word proud comes up a numerous amount of times within the story. In the beginning when his future wife was nameless Armand will give her the proudest name in all of Louisiana. When his son was born he was the proudest man in the parish. And in the end when Dsire hurt his ego he treated her horribly because he wasnt proud anymore.
The sense that Armand is so proud of himself is like a hint of how the end will turn out because when we realize that the child is black the reader automatically knows that he is going to blame his wife. Never would he consider himself black. The thought of Armand being black never crosses the readers mind either. Kate Chopin also deceived the reader into thinking that Dsire is in fault by revealing in the beginning the fact that Dsire has an obscure origin.
Not only did Armand blame Dsire, but we, the reader, also thought Dsire was at fault Although we were first to blame Dsire, we still sympathize with her because she is so gentle and affectionate. We always side with the good guys. Armand acted so evil towards the slaves and his wife that we started to hate him. Although we look down on Armand we still sided with him in thinking that Dsire is the fault of the childs color.
Chopin tries to show the reader how the world is always quick to judge. This story would have had a greater impact when it was read during the time that the story is placed in because of slavery. If we were to be in Armands shoes at the time we would have probably acted the same way. If we were to put this situation into our times it would be like a man falling in love with a woman, and then later finding out that she is his long lost sister. Now he cant even bare to look at her. He feels stupid for ever falling in love with her, so stupid that it couldnt of possibly his fault. Never are we in fault.
Finding out that Armand is actually the one that is black leaves the reader feeling satisfied that he got what was coming to him. But was it
Armand that got what was coming to him, or was it the reader? It is very hard to find fault within oneself.
When we analyzed the story of Dsires Baby, we cant find any foreshadowing of the ending. We have hints that lead us in the opposite direction. When we analyze the characters it is obvious that our first reaction is to blame Armand. He is an unpredictable, egotistical little worm. But Kate Chopin forces the reader to blame him or herself instead of Armand. Even though it is hard to catch the meaning of the story the first time around, the moral is still subconsciously implanted in our heads when we laugh at Armand. If you think about it you would not have done any better. The well-known Aesops fables teach the children of morals and good behavior. However adults need to be reminded as well.