Désirée’s Baby

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La Blanche Character Analysis

One of Armand’s slaves. La Blanche is mentioned several times in the short story in ways that imply a sexual relationship between her and Armand. Armand visits her cabin, and her child’s resemblance to the baby is what causes Désirée to realize his black heritage. It is suggested that La Blanche’s skin is as white as Armand’s or Désirée’s, which of course makes the idea of racial hierarchy and separation that motivates Armand’s actions and Désirée’s suicide seem even more ridiculous and artificial.

La Blanche Quotes in Désirée’s Baby

The Désirée’s Baby quotes below are all either spoken by La Blanche or refer to La Blanche. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Signet Classics edition of Désirée’s Baby published in 1976.
Désirée’s Baby Quotes

One of La Blanche’s little quadroon boys—half naked too— stood fanning the child slowly with a fan of peacock feathers. Désirée’s eyes had been fixed absently and sadly upon the baby, while she was striving to penetrate the threatening mist that she felt closing about her. She looked from her child to the boy who stood beside him, and back again; over and over. “Ah!” It was a cry that she could not help; which she was not conscious of having uttered. The blood turned like ice in her veins, and a clammy moisture gathered upon her face.

Related Characters: Désirée, Baby, La Blanche
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:

Désirée finally realizes the truth about her child's appearance when she observes him near one of La Blanche's little boys. The similarities and differences between these two children is apparent in this moment. Both are "half naked," which emphasizes the similarities between them in the moment when Désirée realizes how much they look alike. Despite their racial similarities, however, their different social classes are clear. The baby lies in expensive wraps on the bed, while the older boy works for the baby's comfort by fanning him. One lives a life of luxury, emphasized by the extravagance of a peacock feather fan, and the other lives a life of labor. 

A further connection between the boys can also be inferred by the story's context: it is possible that the two are half-brothers. A sexual relationship is implied between Armand and one of his slaves, La Blanche—and this boy is the child of La Blanche. Could he also be the biological child of Armand? This would highlight the two children's physical similarities in the moment that Désirée realizes how much they look alike.

Désirée reaction to this realization is one of shock and horror, as "the blood turned like ice in her veins, and a clammy moisture gathered upon her face." That her child appears black and must have some black heritage is a painful realization. Despite the prejudice Désirée has faced as a woman, she is not any more tolerant or open-minded than others when it comes to race. She is deeply ingrained with a racist worldview, which shows in her disgust with her child and unhappiness with herself when she believes Armand's assumption that she is part-black. 


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“It is a lie; it is not true, I am white! Look at my hair, it is brown; and my eyes are gray, Armand, you know they are gray. And my skin is fair,” seizing his wrist. “Look at my hand; whiter than yours, Armand,” she laughed hysterically.
“As white as La Blanche’s,” he returned cruelly; and went away leaving her alone with their child.

Related Characters: Désirée (speaker), Armand (speaker), Baby, La Blanche
Page Number: 192-193
Explanation and Analysis:

Désirée attempts to argue against Armand's assumption that she is part-black by pointing out her own features. The light color of her hair, her gray eyes, and her fair skin are cited as evidence of her white heritage. These pieces of evidence are presented by Désirée as talismans to protect her from Armand's judgment and rage. The ironic moment of this passage is the comparison Désirée makes between her skin shade and Armand's skin shade. This moment subtly foreshadows the truth revealed at the end of the story: that the black heritage visibly expressed in the baby is from Armand's family, not Désirée's family. Armand's misjudgment and cruel treatment of Désirée after he assumes she is partially black are answered in a fatalistic way by the end of the story. Armand, who has profited from racism the most out of all the characters in the story, leading to an elitist understanding of his identity, must confront the fact that he is part of the very group of people he looks down upon. 

Armand's parting statement compares Désirée's skin to La Blanche's skin. La Blanche, although she receives very little time and attention in this story, is presumably full-black and a slave belonging to Armand. Armand's statement implies that he sees no difference between a woman who is part-black and one who is full-black. Any blackness at all characterizes a woman as someone who is unworthy of being his acknowledged and loved wife—and is instead only his property.

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La Blanche Character Timeline in Désirée’s Baby

The timeline below shows where the character La Blanche appears in Désirée’s Baby. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Désirée’s Baby
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism  Theme Icon
...baby’s cry is very loud, so loud her husband heard him “as far away as La Blanche ’s cabin.” (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism  Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
...on her bed, which appears like an extravagant throne with its satin canopy. One of La Blanche ’s boys is fanning the baby using peacock feathers. Désirée stares at her baby and... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism  Theme Icon
...it is fair, and even whiter than his own. Armand responds bitterly, “as white as La Blanche ’s,” and leaves the room. (full context)