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A Theme of Honor in Desiree’s Baby and an Act of Vengeance

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“Desiree’s Baby” and “An Act of Vengeance” are two short stories by Kate Chopin and Isabelle Allende that both utilize similar and different techniques to contribute and deliver each stories theme. By the author’s selection of irony and foreshadowing each story delivers the same technique to convey different meanings. Together each stories characters, symbols, and events demonstrate the overall theme of honor that both woman feel obligated to.

In “Desiree’s Baby” a young woman is the adopted daughter of a wealthy French family who falls in love with Armand, the son of another wealthy family. The story takes place in Louisiana and racism is prominent. Armand and Desiree decide to marry and she bears his child, their son is born with a different skin color and Armand grows cold. As a result, Desiree flees to the Bayou with her son and ends up committing suicide by drowning. Weeks later, Armand discovers a few in which; his mother reveals that she is black. His mother ends the letter, by thanking god for her husband’s love and Armand comes to terms in realizing what a blended family is.

In this story the author utilizes “foreshadowing” to anticipate what is next in the story and help support its meaning. The author chooses to give clues on what is coming in the story; an example of this is “It was a sad looking place, which for many years had not known the gentle presence of a mistress”. This represents that by the way Armand’s mansion is portrayed that there is a dark secret within him that in this case is about race. An example is “He only laughed and said Negrillion was a great scamp. Oh mama, I’m so happy it frightens me”. This is a clue that things are going too well in the relationship considering Armand’s behavior. Then, Armand discovers that the baby is not white and is quick to blame Desiree “Look at my hand; whiter than yours Armand she laughed hysterically”. This is another example of how the author sets to portray that Armand is so cold and fails to look within himself. Armand wants to honor his family and as a result he does as he pleases sending Desiree and the child away. The author hints throughout the story that Armand is black and Desiree is white .By using “foreshadowing” the author is able to indicate Armand and Desiree’s relationship thus portraying the series of events ahead and grounds for why they occur.

In “An Act of Vengeance” a young girl is murdered and then raped by her father’s killer named “Tacedo Cespedes”. She then seeks out to plot against him for all the pain and suffering he has caused but, she consequently ends up falling in love. In the end of the story, she ends up being consumed by guilt and honors her dead father by killing herself before marrying Cespedes. In this story, the author utilizes foreshadowing to convey the series of events to the reader that will ultimately conclude the story. An example of this is when Tacedo first meets Dulce Rosa “During his twenty five years he had neither time to learn poetry nor look at a woman”. This illustrates his emotionless state and he will then soon fall in love with Dulce Rosa because he has not learned to love. Another example of how her plot for revenge foreshadows what is to come in the story is “He knew that she would survive to punish his executioner”. Dulce Rosa would forever be haunted by her father’s death and would want to honor him. Tadeo’s dream is an example of how their love grows and foreshadows her future death. This example is “her reddened rags, sunk in the compassionate embrace of unconsciousness, and he continued to see her that way every night of his life”. This is representation that the two are going to fall in love and Dulce Rosa ends up revering her feelings and she recognizes his passion for her. An example of how the leading events are symbolic and utilized by the author to give hints on the ending is “she took the scissors and went to the room that remained unoccupied”. Taedo ends up paying for his actions losing the one he would only ever love.

In “Desiree’s Baby” Chopin also incorporates dramatic irony to strengthen the theme in the story. The irony in this story is that Armand willingly chooses to not discover Desiree’s family origin “What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana”. Armand marries Desiree because she has no name, he then plans to accuse her of being racially mixed which becomes ironic because Armand comes to find a letter from his mother to the father “Armand will never know that his mother who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery”. This is ironic because family honor was more important to Armand than love and would constantly blame Desiree’s origin “that child is not white; it means that you are not white”. The author utilizes dramatic irony to critique slavery in the south and the consequence is that the reader will know the truth about Armand but it is too late for Desiree.

Likewise, In “An Act of Vengeance” the author utilizes dramatic irony to illustrate how Dulce Rosa avenges Taedo Cespedes without even intending to do so. The irony in this story is that even though she desired revenge both characters fall in love with each other. An example of this is “she relived the embrace of the man whom she had cursed so many times, and remembered the early morning when she had wrapped some tragic remains…”. Dulce Rosa could not be happy either way and as a result the irony becomes evident when “he found Dulce Rosa lying in the same bloody organdy dress”. It becomes ironic that he envisions her in his dreams and he comes to find her again like before but this time he truly knows what honor feels like.

Both “Desiree’s Baby” and “An Act of Vengeance” are representations of women changing throughout the story by the positive and negative of oppression. Chopin and Allende help to illustrate to the reader the significance of honor by utilizing foreshadowing and irony. This common theme is both evident in both short stories as both women face the wonders of love and it turns out to be not how they anticipated. The reason for this is to uniquely craft each story to how the author wants the readers to perceive each theme. With that being said I believe the author is trying to exclaim by both of these stories that yes love is powerful and many are blind to the tragedy it can arouse. These devices allow the reader to see the characters as victims because the authors illustrate the sacrifice of honor that lead to tragedy.

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A Theme of Honor in Desiree’s Baby and an Act of Vengeance. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 24, 2022, from
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