Historical Context in Desiree's Baby
The importance of lineage in the prewar American South: Family name and status were very important in Southern plantation culture before the Civil War. Marriages, friendships, and other social relationships were heavily influenced by familial reputations. Desiree’s mysterious lineage, which Armand initially brushes off as unimportant when Monsieur Valmonde brings it up, eventually proves instrumental to the plot. Her unknown origins make her an easy scapegoat for the scandal of their child’s mixed race. The social hierarchy in mid-19th-century Louisiana placed land-owning whites at the top of social ladder and those with black lineage at the very bottom.
Historical Context Examples in Desiree's Baby:
"“My own Désirée: Come home to Valmondé; back to your mother who loves you. Come with your child.”..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
"“It means,” he answered lightly, “that the child is not white; it means that you are not white.”..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
"old Monsieur Aubigny having married and buried his wife in France..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
"The young mother was recovering slowly, and lay full length..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)