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Type of Work
Setting
Characters
Point of View
Plot Summary
Themes
Climax
Foreshadowings
Désirée's Reaction
Armand's Irreverence
Vocabulary
Figures of Speech
Symbols
Questions, Essay Topics
Complete Free Text
Author Information

Figures of speech

.......The 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. 
.......Here are examples of other figures of speech:

Alliteration

And the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him 
sun's rays brought a golden gleam 
She did not take the broad, beaten road 
In the centre of the smoothly swept back yard was a great bonfire. 

Metaphor

[Désirée] was striving to penetrate the threatening mist that she felt closing about her
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

Simile

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 ice

She was like a stone image: silent, white, motionless after she placed it there.
Comparison of Désirée to a statue

Symbols

.......The following can be interpreted as symbols in "Désirée's Baby."

pillar in front of the Valmondé home: 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.
Author Information

.......Kate Chopin (1851-1904) is best known for her short stories (more than 100) and a novel, The Awakening. One of her recurring themes—the problems facing women in a society that repressed them—made her literary works highly popular in the late twentieth century. They remain popular today. 

Study Questions and Essay Topics

1...Write 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?
2...Do people of mixed racial heritage suffer widespread prejudice in modern society?
3...Write an essay explaining what a typical day was like for a slave laborer on a cotton plantation.
4...Are 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.  

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