Vocabulary in Desiree's Baby
Vocabulary Examples in Desiree's Baby:
"and she did not come back again..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
While not overtly stated, we can infer from the ominous language that Désirée chooses to kill herself and her child. Notice that the bayou is described as “deep” and “sluggish,” and that Chopin ends the same sentence by stating that “she did not come back again.” This might indicate a kind of cause and effect: the bayou is deep, therefore, she does not return.
"the very spirit of Satan..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
In Christian orthodoxy, Satan is the name of the angel Lucifer who rebelled against the rule of God. After failing in his revolution, Satan became the ruler of hell and chief tormentor of the sinners who go to hell after they die. This phrase then gives readers an idea of how Armand all of a sudden began terribly treating his slaves.
"quadroon..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
This now-offensive term refers to a person who has one black grandparent, making them one-quarter black. This quantification of skin color was yet another way that whites classified and dehumanized African Americans, even after the legal end of slavery.
"The yellow nurse woman..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
The use of “yellow” in this passage does not refer to today’s offensive stereotype of Asian peoples. Rather, at the time, it was used to indicate a light-skinned black person, much in the way that Chopin uses other terms—like the now-offensive “quadroon”—to indicate the darkness of one’s skin.
"the window that was lightest..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
The word “lightest” is being used in a couple different ways here. The narrator is referring to the window that literally lets in the most light, so that Madame Valmondé can examine the child closely. However the term might also be used in contrast to the child’s skin tone.
"muslins..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
A “muslin” is a cotton fabric made of plain weave. The soft fabric is used for many different purposes, namely sheets and often clothing for new mothers.
"Providence..." See in text (Désirée's Baby)
In the Christian doctrine, “providence” means divine guidance or care. In this context, it is associated with the concept of destiny, suggesting that it was God’s plan that the Valmondés find Désirée and adopt her. This establishes the theme of fate and providence that will appear throughout the rest of the story as characters blame or thank God for their circumstances.