The short story, Désirée's Baby, explores the role racism plays in various facets of the society. Kate Chopin wrote the story in 1893 to recapture the time of slavery in a plantation within Louisiana. The story is narrated in such a way that readers can gather tiny but critical information about the past. My chosen character is Désirée. She is adopted as a toddler and raised by Monsieur and Madame Valmondé. As a young beautiful woman, Désirée marries Armand with whom she has a son (Chopin, 1893). The short story reveals Désirée’s tragic flaw, saving grace, and character traits that readers can relate to themselves.  

The tragic flaw of Désirée is founded on the fact that her heritage is not known to both her and the adoptive parents. Although her physical features (straight brown hair, fair skin, and grey eyes) prove she is white, Désirée cannot rule out the possibility of belonging to a biracial ancestry. She, therefore, begins to accept having a black ancestry and believes she passed it to her son. The discovery is, however, intolerable so Désirée writes to Madame Valmondé asking her to confirm that the claims that she is not white are false. When Valmondé asks Désirée to go home, she seeks the opinion of her husband (Armand). At the end, Désirée accepts herself as the mother of a biracial child and agree to separate from Armand when he confirms that he wanted her to go. She and her baby drown in the bayou.

Désirée’s saving grace is that the wealthy Valmondés adopted and brought her up in luxurious and privileged lifestyle. This could be the reason why she neither feels inferior nor ashamed of not knowing her true lineage. The successful upbringing is because Désirée is docile enough to allow the adoptive parents plan her life while caring for her. As a young woman, she finds true love in Armand and marries him. Armand is also a wealthy man who owns an estate known as L'Abri. With the marriage, Armand gives Désirée the oldest and proudest name in Louisiana (Chopin, 1893). Although she misses the last revelation, the discovery that Armand was the one with biracial ancestry saves Désirée from accusations of not being white.

I compare with Désirée in that she has genuine love for others. Désirée is married to a slave owner but she does not support her husband’s cruelty on the slaves. This is confirmed where she happily tells Madame Valmondé that Armand had not pushed any of the slaves since the birth of her son (Chopin, 1893). Similar to Désirée, I enjoy assisting people and I do not stop even if my efforts are not appreciated. I, however, disagree with the portrayal of Désirée hopelessness to the level where she feels she is too unhappy to live. Désirée still had a loving mother in Madame Valmondé, who wanted her and her son to go home.

Family is a very important component of the society. It gives a person an identity and can be referred to when a person’s heritage is in question. Due to lack of knowledge of biological family of Désirée, the young woman could not defend her belief that she was white. It is also by putting name above family that Armand lost his innocent wife and son. Désirée and her baby had drowned by the time Armand discovered the truth about his biracial identity.