Foreshadowing in Desiree's Baby
Foreshadowing Examples in Desiree's Baby:
"Armand Aubigny's imperious and exacting nature..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
Désirée describes the change in Armand, and even though she asserts that he has been “softened,” her description actually emphasizes his darker nature. He is cruel and uses his power to harm those he has control over. As readers, we are led to wonder if the change that Désirée describes will be permanent, or if his true character is unchangeable.
"“As white as La Blanche's,” he returned cruelly..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
Armand’s cruel reply delivers another blow to Désirée, who tried to appeal to him with her physical attributes. The nature of his cruel reply immediately after Désirée compares her skin color to Armand’s is also something to consider as it may have implications in the story. Since La Blanche is one of Armand’s slaves, this retort implies that he sees no difference between a woman who is partially black or fully black. He sees his wife and slaves as nothing more than property, and in the case of his wife, he sees her as property that has lost value.
"Oh, Mamma, I'm so happy; it frightens me...." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
Désirée’s claim that she is so happy that it frightens her ought to give readers pause. We have learned of Armand’s passion and cruel treatment of his slaves, and so this sudden change in behavior is at odds with how he has been characterized previously. That the change scares Désirée gives us an indication that it may not be permanent. However, her love for Armand and the baby blind her to the truth about her husband’s character, and she remains hopelessly idealistic, believing that he could never turn his cruelty on her.
"Armand's dark, handsome face..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
Color, light, and shades of darkness have occurred throughout the story thus far to describe important things like the stone pillar and the window Désirée’s mother holds the baby near. The inclusion of “dark” in the description of Armand’s face also has significance in the story, be it his tendency to cruelly treat his slaves or something else.
"“This is not the baby!”..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
At this point in the story, it is still unclear as to why Madame Valmondé reacts this way at the sight of the baby. We can infer from context however, that she is undoubtedly astonished at the baby’s appearance, and seems to think that the baby looks somehow different from Désirée. Désirée, however, only understands her mother’s cry as a sign of the child’s growth since his birth.
"What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana?..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
Armand’s hasty dismissal of Monsieur Valmondé’s cautions seems to be driven primarily by his overwhelming passion for Désirée, rather than his true lack of concern about her origins.
"the girl's obscure origin..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
Monsieur Valmondé cautioned Armand because of his concern that Désirée’s murky past will present a potential problem. During this time, an individual’s birth, bloodline, and name were of extreme importance and could determine who they could marry. Although Désirée has been brought up in a wealthy family, her heritage is unknown. This would have been a serious issue for many suitors. Chopin foreshadows events to come with this cautionary line.
"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...." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
Chopin compares Armand’s passion to avalanches, fires, or anything else that moves quickly and without regard for objects in its way. This characterizes Armand as potentially capricious, rash, and reckless. If such passion can make him feel this way and suddenly change his behavior, then other emotions can just as quickly change his behavior in different ways.
"That was the way all the Aubignys fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot. ..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
This line tells the reader a bit about Armand’s family and his own character. He is characterized as impulsive and passionate. Note too, that Armand is associated with a loud and violent weapon, strongly contrasting with Désirée’s sweet and gentle nature. The description here also foreshadows darker aspects of Armand’s character.