Désirée’s Baby

Désirée Character Analysis

A child found abandoned at the Valmondés’ gate in the shadow of a stone pillar. She is raised in the relative luxury of the Valmondés’ home, and marries Armand Aubigny, a wealth plantation older from one of the oldest and most established families in Louisiana. Désirée gives birth to a baby boy and eventually realizes that the child’s physical features reveal its black heritage. Armand assumes that Désirée is the one who passed that heritage on to her child, and abandons his love for her. In despair at her husband’s subsequent abandonment, Désirée walks off into the Bayou wilderness with her baby to their deaths.

Désirée Quotes in Désirée’s Baby

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

In time Madame Valmondé abandoned every speculation but the one that Désirée had been sent to her by a beneficent Providence to be the child of her affection, seeing that she was without child of the flesh.

Related Characters: Madame Valmondé, Désirée
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

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It was no wonder, when she stood one day against the stone pillar in whose shadow she had lain asleep, eighteen years before, that Armand Aubigny riding by and seeing her there, had fallen in love with her.

Related Characters: Désirée, Armand
Related Symbols: Stone pillar
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

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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, or like anything that drives headlong over all obstacles.

Related Characters: Désirée, Armand
Related Symbols: Stone pillar, The Bonfire
Page Number: 189
Explanation and Analysis:

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“This is not the baby!” she exclaimed, in startled tones.

Related Characters: Madame Valmondé (speaker), Désirée, Baby
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

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“…he hasn’t punished one of them—not one of them—since baby is born. Even Négrillon, who pretended to have burnt his leg that he might rest from work—he only laughed, and said Négrillon was a great scamp. Oh, mamma, I’m so happy; it frightens me.”

Related Characters: Désirée (speaker), Madame Valmondé, Armand, Baby
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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Marriage, and later the birth of his son had softened Armand Aubigny’s imperious and exacting nature greatly. This was what made the gentle Désirée so happy, for she loved him desperately. When he frowned she trembled, but loved him. When he smiled, she asked no greater blessing of God.

Related Characters: Désirée, Armand, Baby
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

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Then a strange, an awful change in her husband’s manner, which she dared not ask him to explain. When he spoke to her, it was with averted eyes, from which the old love-light seemed to have gone out. He absented himself from home; and when there, avoided her presence and that of her child, without excuse. And the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his dealings with the slaves. Désirée was miserable enough to die.

Related Characters: Désirée, Armand, Baby
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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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:

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"Armand,” she panted once more, clutching his arm, “look at our child. What does it mean? tell me.”
He coldly but gently loosened her fingers from about his arm and thrust the hand away from him. “Tell me what it means!” she cried despairingly.
“It means,” he answered lightly, “that the child is not white; it means that you are not white.”

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

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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:

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“My mother, they tell me I am not white. Armand has told me I am not white. For God’s sake tell them it is not true. You must know it is not true. I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy, and live.”

Related Characters: Désirée (speaker), Madame Valmondé, Armand
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

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He thought Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him; and felt, somehow, that he was paying Him back in kind when he stabbed thus into his wife’s soul. Moreover he no longer loved her, because of the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and his name.

Related Characters: Désirée, Armand
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

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She disappeared among the reeds and willows that grew thick along the banks of the deep, sluggish bayou; and she did not come back again.

Related Characters: Désirée, Baby
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

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Désirée Character Timeline in Désirée’s Baby

The timeline below shows where the character Désirée 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
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
...mid-nineteenth century Louisiana, Madame Valmondé drives to the neighboring plantation to visit her adopted daughter Désirée and her daughter’s new baby. She reflects that it seems but yesterday that her grown... (full context)
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
The child, Désirée, grew up to be the pride and joy of the Valmondés. She became beautiful, kind,... (full context)
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
Monsieur Valmondé did not object, but he did try to caution Armand about Désirée’s unknown past. When reminded that the girl had no true family or family name, Armand... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Madame Valmondé greets her daughter inside the house where Désirée and her baby are resting on a couch, dressed in muslins and lace. A nurse... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
...has indeed grown, and then she asks her daughter what Armand says about the baby. Désirée’s expression is one of pure happiness. She exclaims that Armand is the proudest father in... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
Désirée continues, lowering her voice, and confides in her mother that Armand has not punished any... (full context)
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
Time passes. One day, when the baby is three months old, Désirée wakes up in the morning with the feeling that her sense of peace will not... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
One afternoon, Désirée is sitting in her room watching her baby who is asleep on her bed, which... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Irony, Misjudgments, and Fate Theme Icon
Armand enters the room, but does not acknowledge Désirée and begins looking through some papers on a table. Désirée calls his name in a... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Désirée immediately senses all that this accusation means and leaps to deny it. She says that... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Blindness Theme Icon
Désirée writes to her mother and tells her what has happened—that her husband has told her... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Irony, Misjudgments, and Fate Theme Icon
Désirée takes the letter from her mother into Armand’s study and presents it to him. Armand... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Irony, Misjudgments, and Fate Theme Icon
Désirée turns away and leaves, hoping at each moment that Armand will ask her to stay.... (full context)
Slavery and Racism Theme Icon
Intersection of Classism, Sexism, and Racism Theme Icon
Irony, Misjudgments, and Fate Theme Icon
...embroideries; bonnets and gloves follow this. These are all the expensive gifts Armand bought for Désirée upon their engagement. (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
...last thing Armand wants to add to the bonfire is a package of letters from Désirée to himself, written during their engagement. He removed the letters from a drawer and with... (full context)