Wednesday, January 18, 2012

desirees baby

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Desirees Baby Melissa Sweetman


10 Set 1


How does Kate Chopin create sympathy for the main female character, Desiree, in her story ‘Desiree’s Baby?’ How do you feel at the end and why?


The story is about a rich slave owner, Armand Aubiginy. Armand had lived in Louisiana in America since he was 8, Louisiana was a state where slaves have no human rights and therefore Armand has grown into a society of prejudice. Armand falls in love with a girl called Desiree who was abandoned as a baby and found near a stone pillar by a passer by. Madame Valmonde found her and therefore Desiree grew up in the house of Valmonde. Armand and Desiree eventually have a baby together, Armand later finds that the child is of mixed race and rejects Desiree and the baby, thinking its from Desiree’s family. At the end of the story, Armand finds a letter which tells him of his own black origins! The story is set during the time of slavery and has a theme involving prejudice. The story is about stereotyping people and how blacks deserve racial equality.


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Kate Chopin firstly creates sympathy for Desiree by saying


‘ The little one awoke in his arms and began to cry for “dada”’


We feel sorry for Desiree because as soon as she awoke she cries for “dada” who is not there. This shows the family bond with Desiree and her parents because “dada” seems to be the only word she can say. Kate Chopin creates love for Desiree by saying


‘ The girl grew to be beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere.’


This also creates sympathy for Desiree because she is so ‘gentle’ and ‘affectionate’ which creates a feeling that she is kind and caring and wouldn’t harm anyone. We sympathise for Desiree when it says


‘ “This is not the baby” she exclaimed in startled tones’


Madame Valmonde has seen a change in the baby and we know that shes worried because Kate Chopin says ‘exclaimed’, this emphasises the fact that there is something different about the baby.


‘ I knew you would be astonished, laughed Desiree’


We feel sympathy for Desiree because she thinks that it’s a startled surprise to Madame Valmonde of how much the baby has grown. Now the baby is older Madame Valmonde can see the colour coming out in him.


‘ What does Armand say?’


After ‘scanning the baby narrowly’ Madame Valmonde asks Desiree this. It seems as if Madame Valmonde thinks Armand has become aware of a change in the baby to! We sympathise for Desiree here because we know that when Desiree finds out of the child is mixed race she will wonder why because she knows nothing of black origins in her family.


‘ Oh Armand is the proudest father in the parish’


Kate Chopin creates sympathy for Desiree her because Desiree actually thinks that Madame Valmonde is startled because of the baby’s quick growth. She doesnt even know that Madame Valmonde is trying to put the point across of mixed race in the baby. Kate Chopin creates sympathy for Desiree by saying


‘ . . . Desiree awoke one day to the conviction that there was something in the air menacing her peace’


Here, there is a dramatic change in the atmosphere. Kate Chopin uses the word ’menacing’ which brings forth a threatening mood to Desiree. This makes the reader sympathise for Desiree because something is stopping peace, and is bringing forth threat!


‘Then a strange and awful change in her husbands manner’


We fear for Desiree’s marriage here because Desiree is unsure why her husband has changed. At first there was a lot of love and now life is beginning to change. This is because he is blaming Desiree for something that is not her fault.


‘When he looked at her it was with averted eyes, from which the old love light seemed to have gone out.’


Armand is beginning to reject Desiree and she is totally in fear of loosing him. We feel sorry for Desiree because the love they had has suddenly died out and she would live in despair without Armand.


‘ He avoided her presence and that of the child, without excuse’


Armand has now rejected Desiree and the baby for good. Kate Chopin uses the words ‘her child’ instead or ‘their child’ which means he no longer wants responsibility of the coloured child and therefore is leaving it all to Desiree. This makes the reader feel sorry for Desiree because he is rejecting her without excuse or reason. Again, Kate Chopin creates sympathy for Desiree when it says


‘ Miserable enough to die’


This shows that what Armand is putting Desiree through is distressing and is hurting her physically and emotionally. It creates sympathy for Desiree because it shows of Desirees physical dread of living without Armand. She cannot go on without him because of the words used such as ‘die’, we have a feeling that Desiree will become suicidal. Armand has become cruel and evil to towards Desiree, just like ‘Satan’. When Desiree realises Armand no longer wants her around her physical reaction is frightening.


‘ The blood turned like ice in her veins, and a clammy moisture gathered upon her face.’


We sympathise for Desiree because she is frightened about the future of her baby and herself because she knows what Armand is like towards the black slaves and is scared he will carry on like it towards the baby.


‘ And the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his dealings with the slaves.’


This shows the evilness coming out in Armand towards Desiree and the baby. He has returned to his old ways and the physical fear to Desiree is upsetting. Sympathy is created for Desiree when Kate Chopin says


‘ Tell me what it means, she cried despairingly’


Desiree doesnt understand the situation, she doesnt understand how the baby is of mixed race. She is pleading with Armand because she believes he knows more. We feel angry at Armand because he promised his ‘undying love’ to Desiree and is now disowning her like this. We feel sorry for Desiree when it says


‘ He coldly but gently loosened her fingers from his arm’


Again Armand is acting really cruelly towards Desiree because when she touches him he ‘loosens’ her fingers from his arm. This shows that the relationship HAS come to an end and therefore she replies with


‘ I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy and live.’


Kate Chopin creates a really good image of Desirees despair. By using the three parts to the one comment it creates a greater impact upon the reader. Desirees feelings get stronger as she goes through, ‘I shall die’ and ‘I must die’ and lastly ‘I cannot be so unhappy and live’. Desiree is saying that if she doesn’t die she will have no life ahead of her, for herself and the baby.


As Madame Valmonde asks her to come home and Armand asks her to leave, she takes one of the routes . . . . the wrong route!


‘ She turned away like one stunned by a blow, and walked towards the door hoping he would call her back.’


Desiree is in desperate need of hope, and this hope has gone. She wants Armand to love her and is waiting for him to call her back. Again we feel angry at Armand because he is treating his wife with no sincerity or loyalty, even a stranger would help Desiree but the man ho has sworn his undying love to her will not! Desiree is feeling pain both physically and emotionally and Armand doesn’t even know that he is leading Desiree down the path of death. We feel sorry for Desiree when it says


‘ She walked across the deserted field where the stubble bruised her tender feet, so delicately shod, and tore her thin gown to threads.’


By using the word ‘deserted’ Kate Chopin creates the image that Desiree is alone, isolated, abandoned and rejected. Desiree is being victimised in the brutality of life, she has no help and by using the word ‘tender’ refers to her innocence. Again she is being treated as a victim in her own society. It is as if the society is attacking her. ‘Thin gown’ This shows Desiree has no barrier to protect her and her bruising will take a long time to fade, like the pain Armand has created for Desiree. By using active verbs like ‘tore’ and ‘bruised’ it strikes the reader more and creates awareness. By having two opposites it represents the society and shows what it does, like Armands evilness and Desirees innocence. Desirees life and the child have been destroyed, the society is too cruel and harsh for them and is impossible to go on.


‘ She disappeared among the reeds and willows that grew thick along the banks of the deep sluggish bayou and she did not come back again.’


Sorrow is created for both Desiree and the baby here. They have both been abandoned by Armand. By saying that the willows were ‘thick’ it seems as if they are trying to stop her from escaping. They were both driven to death by prejudice and Armand made her believe it was her fault for the coloured baby. It seems as if Desiree and the baby have been swallowed up and destroyed by society. Desiree made this choice because she believed she would be frowned at by society because of her mixed race baby, so she believes she HAS o die and has no alternative. The marsh land represents the society and how it swallows her.


I think Kate Chopin has created sympathy for Desiree really well. The story has made me realise how dangerous prejudice can be. Armand was kept in ignorance which I believe is the root to prejudice. Just because he thought Desiree was of mixed race he should have still loved her because she would have loved him. he shouldn’t off neglected the child just because it has black origins. I think that if Armand would have been brought up to know the truth he would have reacted differently, this creates sympathy for Armand. Desiree was very caring and loving in the story which causes us to admire her which causes sympathy. Prejudice has made Armand cruel, cold and unkind which pushed him into hating the child which is REALLY unfair. If Armand would have followed in his Fathers footsteps he wouldn’t be like this. His father wasn’t prejudice because he married Armands mother who was of mixed race but still loved her! Armands prejudice led Desiree to death, she was just a young girl who deserved


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