Essay on Pride and Reason

Submitted By kaikaipo
Words: 1154
Pages: 5

Pride and Reason

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Kristie Lam
Sister Sharp
English 101 - 02
22 October 2014


Pride and Reason
Can true love actually overpower any evil? Love and reason have always been the solution to most of the fairy tales that were told, giving the impression that they are indestructible and powerful. However, in Kate Chopin’s short story, “Desiree’s Baby,” the love and reason between Armand and Desiree are destroyed by irrational social values and the selfishness of a man. “Desiree’s Baby” was written in the nineteenth century, setting the story with a historical background of slavery. The story explores the problem of a man’s pride in his family name and discriminatory views against Negros overcoming the love he has for his wife.
The writer allows readers to witness Armand develops hate for Desiree because she gave birth to a coloured baby, only later to find that he was the one who “belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery” (Chopin 4). With the tragic and ironic ending, Chopin portrays how the society is corrupted by the idea of pride and addresses the role racism played in destroying this marriage through presenting the conflicting idea of pride and reason in her work.
Chopin utilizes the setting of “Desiree’s Baby” to create a stage for her test of pride and reason. One can interpret from the existing issue of slavery and excessive racism in the story that it is set in the pre-civil war period. Armand is a slave owner in “Louisiana,” which was the only state where “slave master held absolute authority over his human property” (Chopin 1; CRF). A law in Louisiana states that “the master may sell [the slave], dispose of his person, his industry, and his labor; the slave can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything but what must belong to his master” (CRF). Setting the story in the antebellum south adequately reflects that racism will be one of the major concerns in the story. Armand Aubigny staunchly believes in the superiority of the white blood, as he rules his slave very strictly, even causing them to “forget

how to be gay” (Chopin 1). When the baby is discovered to be coloured, the fact that Desiree has an “obscure origin” and the importance of race in that time justifies Armand’s change in manner
(Chopin 1). The author chooses such a setting to highlight her views towards racism and emphasize the damaging effects of it; on the other hand, using antebellum south and its social values as a background, Chopin sets a perfect stage for the destruction of a marriage and the happening of an irony.
One of the most compelling reasons, love, is displayed in “Desiree’s Baby” to prove the destructive power of pride. With the heartwarming story of Desiree’s adoption, the process of
Armand falling in love, and birth of an Aubigny, the author filled the beginning of the story with joy and love. Desiree, whose name “signifies that she is an object of desire,” is portrayed as “an object of intense maternal and paternal love,” providing every reason for Armand’s
“[passionate]” love for her (Pegules 9; Chopin 1). Indeed, she is “a woman who is able to suddenly entice Armand’s passion despite her obscure origin and lack of prestigious family name” (Pegules 9). At the same time, Desiree loves Armand “desperately” (Chopin 2). Her emotions are described to be connected with Armand’s, with “when he frowned she trembled” and “when he smiled, she asked no greater blessing of God” (Chopin 2). The love between the couple is mutual, leaving there no other reasons for the annihilation of this marriage. It is obvious that Armand is delighted because of his wife and son, as his “face had not often been disfigured by frowns since the day he fell in love with her” and “[has not] punished one of [the slaves]” since the baby is born (Chopin 2). One would expect such a beautiful marriage to be everlasting; however, Chopin challenges this seemingly indestructible love with the superficial vanity of humans.

Armand’s…