The Last Letter to Burn
The evil of bigotry is the main theme, or central idea, of Kate Chopin’s, “Desiree’s Baby.” In addition, the prevalence of justice is a key idea of the story, and becomes it becomes more and more apparent as the story builds. A plot, filled with twists and turns, further supports these themes.
“Desiree’s Baby” opens with a brief exposition explaining how Desiree became married to Armand Aubigny, a wealthy plantation owner in Louisiana, whose extreme racism causes him to mistreat his slaves. As a baby, Desiree was left at the home of Madame Valmond, who immediately took her in and fell in love with her. It was eighteen years later than Armand first saw and fell in love with Desiree. Upon getting married, Armand’s love for Desiree so overcomes his bigotry that he learns to treat his slaves with kindness.
Bigotry, as a theme, becomes more apparent after the birth of Desiree and Armand’s first baby. When Armand sees the dark skin of his baby boy, he questions his wife’s heritage and even accuses her saying, ” ‘you are not white.’” So hurt by the words of the man who once loved her, Desiree leaves to Madame Valmond’s with her son. In a rage, Armand creates a bonfire with all of Desiree’s belongings. When he reaches for the last letter to burn, Armand realizes it is an old letter from his mother to his father. From this, Armand learns it is he, not his wife, who “‘belongs to that race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.’”