most important figure of speech in the story is irony. It occurs most notably
at the end, when Armand discovers that it is he who is of mixed racial
ancestry. Another example of irony is the fact that Désirée's
child becomes fatherless after Armand rejects his wife and the boy. Eighteen
years before, Désirée, crying "Dada," was fatherless when
Monsieur Valmondé found her.
are examples of other figures of speech:
And the very spirit
of Satan seemed
to take hold of him
sun's rays brought a golden
She did not take the broad,
In the centre of the smoothly
back yard was a great bonfire.
striving to penetrate the threatening mist that she felt closing about
Comparison of the atmosphere
in Désirée's room to a mist
"Armand," she called to him,
in a voice which must have stabbed him
Comparison of Désirée's
voice to a knife
The passion that awoke in
him that day, when he saw her at the gate, swept along like an avalanche,
or like a prairie fire. . . .
Comparison of the rush
of Armand's passion to the movement of an avalanche and a prairie fire
The roof came down steep
and black like a cowl
Comparison of the pitch
of the roof to that of a monk's hood
their thick-leaved, far-reaching
branches shadowed it like a pall
Comparison of the shadows
cast by an oak tree to a pall
The baby, half naked, lay
asleep upon her own great mahogany bed, that was like a sumptuous throne,
with its satin-lined half-canopy.
Comparison of the bed
to a throne
The blood turned like ice
in her veins
Comparison of blood to
She was like a stone image:
silent, white, motionless after she placed it there.
Comparison of Désirée
to a statue
following can be interpreted as symbols in "Désirée's Baby."
pillar in front of the
Strength and protection. Monsieur Valmondé found Désirée
sleeping next to the pillar when she was a baby. As a young woman, she
leans against it when Armand notices her.
L'Abri: The foreboding
appearance of this plantation home symbolizes Armand's dark moods.
bonfire: The destruction
of the memory of Désirée and the baby.
October sunset: The
ending of Désirée's marriage to Armand.
Chopin (1851-1904) is best known for her short stories (more than 100)
and a novel, The Awakening. One of her recurring themesÂthe
problems facing women in a society that repressed themÂmade
her literary works highly popular in the late twentieth century. They remain
Questions and Essay Topics
two to four paragraphs that extend the conclusion of "Désirée's
Baby." In these paragraphs, answer at least one of the following questions:
Will Armand keep quiet about his mixed racial heritage? Will he have a
change of heart and try to reconcile with Désirée? Will his
attitude to slavery and blacks change?
people of mixed racial heritage suffer widespread prejudice in modern society?
an essay explaining what a typical day was like for a slave laborer on
a cotton plantation.
you the child of a black parent and a white parent? If so, explain to your
classmates the reaction of people when they learn of your background.