Désirée’s Baby

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Madame Aubigny Character Analysis

Monsieur Aubigny’s wife and Armand’s mother. This French woman is revealed to be black through a letter written to her husband, which is uncovered by Armand at the end of the story. The couple resided in France where an inter-racial relationship was more socially acceptable. Her heritage is what impacts the baby’s appearance. She kept Armand ignorant of his heritage out of her love for him, though of course with disastrous consequences.

Madame Aubigny Quotes in Désirée’s Baby

The Désirée’s Baby quotes below are all either spoken by Madame Aubigny or refer to Madame Aubigny. 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

“But, above all,” she wrote, “night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.”

Related Characters: Madame Aubigny (speaker), Armand, Monsieur Aubigny
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

The short story ends with this plot twist, in which Armand discovers a letter from his mother to his father that reveals the truth of his black heritage. His mother was part-black, a fact which she hid from Armand. This ending is dramatically ironic, because it reveals the misjudgment Armand made in accusing Désirée's heritage rather than suspecting his own. As a wealthy white man, he never considers that he could be anything less than perfect, according to his own standards and society's standards (which assumes that whiteness equals purity). This reveal of the truth seems to be Armand's ironic fate, and a type of justice is served when Armand, who mistreated others for the color of their skin, must now confront his own black heritage. 

The language of this passage reinforces the pervasiveness of slavery in this society and the incredible cruelty of this practice. Madame Aubigny is grateful that her son can live free from the shame of knowing his race. She refers to blacks as "the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery." She knows that the treatment of her race is a type of curse, and she sees Armand's "escape" from this as blessing from "the good God." Like Madame Valmondé, she loves her child and wants to protect him in an environment that is cruel toward a whole race of people—but she makes no effort to help those who are actual slaves, or who have no option of "passing" as white.

Ironically, the similarity between Armand and the slaves he mistreated is not so great as he once supposed. This shows the incredible superficiality and arbitrariness of racism and classism, where one man wields ultimate power over others... but ultimately those "others" are people with whom he shares the same heritage. 


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Madame Aubigny Character Timeline in Désirée’s Baby

The timeline below shows where the character Madame Aubigny 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
...house appears sad, for it has not had the gentle care of a mistress since Madame Aubigny died and was buried in Paris. Before that, Madame Aubigny had not wanted to move... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism  Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
Irony, Misjudgments, and Fate Theme Icon
...letter, one written from his mother to his father. He reads the letter: in it, Madame Aubigny thanks God for her husband’s love, and tells Monsieur Aubigny how grateful she is that... (full context)