Professor Carol Froisy
LITR 320 American Fiction
June 10, 2012
A Marxist Critique of Desirée’s Baby
The Antebellum south, or merely the word plantation, conjures images of white, columned manses shaded by ancient oaks bowed beneath the weight of Spanish moss and centuries. Somehow these monuments of Greek revivalist architecture sparkle in their ivory-coated siding, even while the trunks of their aged arboreal neighbors hide under layer upon soggy layer of dense, green lichen. The white house is a reflection of the inhabitants, its cleanliness in the damp, soiled environment standing as a stark reminder of the hegemony governing the lives of those living not in the house, but hidden nearby. L’Abri, the plantation …show more content…
Madam Valmondé is part of the power structure and victimizes her own daughter, whom she claims to love deeply and sees as a gift from “a beneficent Providence to be the child of her affection, seeing as she was without child of the flesh” (Chopin 401). Had Desirée been a child of the flesh of Madam Valmondé, she would have been accepted, and Madam Valmondé could have exercised her superiority over Armand and the unanswered questions of his origins. It is remarkable that no one questions Armand’s pedigree even though his mother lived and died in France (Chopin 401). Armand’s mother is perhaps one of the more interesting subjects of Marxist study in the story.
One cannot help but wonder why Chopin portrays Monsieur Aubigny as “easy-going and indulgent” (Chopin 403). He is a slave owner who married a woman of a different race overseas and asserted his white superiority over her, which is evident in her letter at the end of the story (Chopin 405). She credits God with having given her the ability to hide the reality of her inferiority from her son (Chopin 405). She is lost in the shame of her otherness. She has been so fully convinced by her perceived superiors of her inferiority that she sees the ability to hide her true nature as a gift from her creator. To Monsieur Aubigny’s hidden wife, this is as much a gift as Madam Valmondé’s