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Irony in Desiree's Baby

Situational irony: “Désirée’s Baby” represents an example of situational irony employed in a work of short fiction. Situational irony arises when an unexpected narrative event occurs in a way that upends the prior assumptions of the readers and the characters. In Chopin’s story, this upending happens at the end when Armand reads his mother’s note and discovers that he himself is of mixed racial origins. Neither Armand nor first-time readers predict such a twist, for it runs counter to the previously prevailing, albeit false, truth—that Désirée is partly black.

Irony Examples in Desiree's Baby:

Désirée's Baby

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"belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.”..."   (Désirée's Baby)

In the letter that Armand reads from his mother, she writes that he “belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.” This reveals that it is actually Armand who has black ancestry, not Désirée. This dramatic plot twist makes the ending of the story, and the story itself, all the more ironic and devastating. More specifically, Armand’s fate is extremely ironic. He has treated his wife and his slaves with violence and cruelty based on the color of their skin, and now he must face the fact that he is actually part-black himself.

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