Desiree's Baby

Symbolism, Setting and Sexism in 'Desiree's Baby' 12th Grade

The miscegenation and racism which Kate Chopin’s short story "Désirée’s Baby" centers upon resulted in a daring piece of work by a female writer in the 19th century. These central themes are also linked to the story’s setting, symbolism, and references of sexism – all interconnected one way or another. In fact, it is Chopin's manipulation of setting and use of careful, progressively changing descriptions that makes the sociological content of her narrative become especially prominent and potent.

As "Désirée’s Baby" begins with a flashback, readers are given a brief yet detailed introduction of Désirée’s background, which only begins when she is found as a toddler by Monsieur Valmondé “at the gateway” of his estate. This “gateway” with its “big stone pillar” plays a significant role in building up the story. Not only is it where Désirée had been found, but it is also the very spot where Armand Aubigny falls in love with her eighteen years later. This “gateway” therefore symbolizes the beginning of significant changes in Désirée’s life; it can be inferred as an opening to another stage in her life, such as her first entering into the Valmondé family and later entering a married life with Armand Aubigny.

The Aubigny’s mansion, the...

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