Désirée's Baby

By Kate Chopin

AS THE DAY was pleasant, Madame Valmondé drove over to L'Abri to see Désirée and the baby.

It made her laugh to think of Désirée with a baby. Why, it seemed but yesterday that Désirée was little more than a baby herself; when Monsieur in riding through the gateway of Valmondé had found her lying asleep in the shadow of the big stone pillar.

The little one awoke in his arms and began to cry for “Dada.” That was as much as she could do or say. Some people thought she might have strayed there of her own accord, for she was of the toddling age. The prevailing belief was that she had been purposely left by a party of Texans, whose canvas-covered wagon, late in the day, had crossed the ferry that Coton Mais kept, just below the plantation. In time Madame Valmondé abandoned every speculation but the one that Désirée had been sent to her by a beneficent Providence to be the child of her affection, seeing that she was without child of the flesh. For the girl grew to be beautiful and gentle, affectionate and sincere,—the idol of Valmondé.

It was no wonder, when she stood one day against the stone pillar in whose shadow she had lain asleep, eighteen years before, that Armand Aubigny riding by and seeing her there, had fallen in love with her. That was the way all the Aubignys fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot. The wonder was that he had not loved her before; for he had known her since his father brought him home from Paris, a boy of eight, after his mother died there. 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.

Monsieur Valmondé grew practical and wanted things well considered: that is, the girl's obscure origin. Armand looked into her eyes and did not care. He was reminded that she was nameless. What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana?

He ordered the corbeille from Paris, and contained himself with what patience he could until it arrived; then they were married.

Madame Valmondé had not seen Désirée and the baby for four weeks. When she reached L'Abri she shuddered at the first sight of it, as she always did. It was a sad looking place, which for many years had not known the gentle presence of a mistress, old Monsieur Aubigny having married and buried his wife in France, and she having loved her own land too well ever to leave it. The roof came down steep and black like a cowl, reaching out beyond the wide galleries that encircled the yellow stuccoed house. Big, solemn oaks grew close to it, and their thick-leaved, far-reaching branches shadowed it like a pall. Young Aubigny's rule was a strict one, too, and under it his negroes had forgotten how to be gay, as they had been during the old master's easy-going and indulgent lifetime.

The young mother was recovering slowly, and lay full length, in her soft white muslins and laces, upon a couch. The baby was beside her, upon her arm, where he had fallen asleep, at her breast. The yellow nurse woman sat beside a window fanning herself.

Madame Valmondé bent her portly figure over Désirée and kissed her, holding her an instant tenderly in her arms. Then she turned to the child.

“This is not the baby!” she exclaimed, in startled tones. French was the language spoken at Valmondé in those days.

“I knew you would be astonished,” laughed Désirée, “at the way he has grown. The little cochon de lait! Look at his legs, mamma, and his hands and fingernails,—real finger-nails. Zandrine had to cut them this morning. Isn't it true, Zandrine?”

The woman bowed her turbaned head majestically, “Mais si, Madame.”

“And the way he cries,” went on Désirée, “is deafening. Armand heard him the other day as far away as La Blanche's cabin.”

Madame Valmondé had never removed her eyes from the child. She lifted it and walked with it over to the window that was lightest. She scanned the baby narrowly, then looked as searchingly at Zandrine, whose face was turned to gaze across the fields.

“Yes, the child has grown, has changed,” said Madame Valmondé, slowly, as she replaced it beside its mother. “What does Armand say?”

Désirée's face became suffused with a glow that was happiness itself.

“Oh, Armand is the proudest father in the parish, I believe, chiefly because it is a boy, to bear his name; though he says not,—that he would have loved a girl as well. But I know it isn't true. I know he says that to please me. And Mamma,” she added, drawing Madame Valmondé's head down to her, and speaking in a whisper, “he hasn't punished one of them—not one of them—since baby is born. Even Négrillon, who pretended to have burnt his leg that he might rest from work—he only laughed, and said Négrillon was a great scamp. Oh, Mamma, I'm so happy; it frightens me.”

What Désirée said was true. Marriage, and later the birth of his son had softened Armand Aubigny's imperious and exacting nature greatly. This was what made the gentle Désirée so happy, for she loved him desperately. When he frowned, she trembled, but loved him. When he smiled, she asked no greater blessing of God. But Armand's dark, handsome face had not often been disfigured by frowns since the day he fell in love with her.

When the baby was about three months old, Désirée awoke one day to the conviction that there was something in the air menacing her peace. It was at first too subtle to grasp. It had only been a disquieting suggestion; an air of mystery among the blacks; unexpected visits from far-off neighbors who could hardly account for their coming. Then a strange, an awful change in her husband's manner, which she dared not ask him to explain. When he spoke to her, it was with averted eyes, from which the old love-light seemed to have gone out. He absented himself from home; and when there, avoided her presence and that of her child, without excuse. And the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his dealings with the slaves. Désirée was miserable enough to die.

She sat in her room, one hot afternoon, in her peignoir, listlessly drawing through her fingers the strands of her long, silky brown hair that hung about her shoulders. The baby, half naked, lay asleep upon her own great mahogany bed, that was like a sumptuous throne, with its satin-lined half-canopy. One of La Blanche's little quadroon boys—half naked too—stood fanning the child slowly with a fan of peacock feathers. Désirée's eyes had been fixed absently and sadly upon the baby, while she was striving to penetrate the threatening mist that she felt closing about her. She looked from her child to the boy who stood beside him, and back again; over and over. “Ah!” It was a cry that she could not help; which she was not conscious of having uttered. The blood turned like ice in her veins, and a clammy moisture gathered upon her face.

She tried to speak to the little quadroon boy; but no sound would come, at first. When he heard his name uttered, he looked up, and his mistress was pointing to the door. He laid aside the great, soft fan, and obediently stole away, over the polished floor, on his bare tiptoes.

She stayed motionless, with gaze riveted upon her child, and her face the picture of fright.

Presently her husband entered the room, and without noticing her, went to a table and began to search among some papers which covered it.

“Armand,” she called to him, in a voice which must have stabbed him, if he was human. But he did not notice. “Armand,” she said again. Then she rose and tottered towards him. “Armand,” she panted once more, clutching his arm, “look at our child. What does it mean? Tell me.”

He coldly but gently loosened her fingers from about his arm and thrust the hand away from him. “Tell me what it means!” she cried despairingly.

“It means,” he answered lightly, “that the child is not white; it means that you are not white.”

A quick conception of all that this accusation meant for her nerved her with unwonted courage to deny it. “It is a lie; it is not true, I am white! Look at my hair, it is brown; and my eyes are gray, Armand, you know they are gray. And my skin is fair,” seizing his wrist. “Look at my hand; whiter than yours, Armand,” she laughed hysterically.

“As white as La Blanche's,” he returned cruelly; and went away leaving her alone with their child.

When she could hold a pen in her hand, she sent a despairing letter to Madame Valmondé.

“My mother, they tell me I am not white. Armand has told me I am not white. For God's sake tell them it is not true. You must know it is not true. I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy, and live.”

The answer that came was brief:

“My own Désirée: Come home to Valmondé; back to your mother who loves you. Come with your child.”

When the letter reached Désirée, she went with it to her husband's study, and laid it open upon the desk before which he sat. She was like a stone image: silent, white, motionless after she placed it there.

In silence he ran his cold eyes over the written words.

He said nothing. “Shall I go, Armand?” she asked in tones sharp with agonized suspense.

“Yes, go.”

“Do you want me to go?”

“Yes, I want you to go.”

He thought Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him; and felt, somehow, that he was paying Him back in kind when he stabbed thus into his wife's soul. Moreover he no longer loved her, because of the unconscious injury she had brought upon his home and his name.

She turned away like one stunned by a blow, and walked slowly towards the door, hoping he would call her back.

“Good-bye, Armand,” she moaned.

He did not answer her. That was his last blow at fate.

Désirée went in search of her child. Zandrine was pacing the somber gallery with it. She took the little one from the nurse's arms with no word of explanation, and descending the steps, walked away, under the live-oak branches.

It was an October afternoon; the sun was just sinking. Out in the still fields the negroes were picking cotton.

Désirée had not changed the thin white garment nor the slippers which she wore. Her hair was uncovered and the sun's rays brought a golden gleam from its brown meshes. She did not take the broad, beaten road which led to the far-off plantation of Valmondé. She walked across a deserted field, where the stubble bruised her tender feet, so delicately shod, and tore her thin gown to shreds.

She disappeared among the reeds and willows that grew thick along the banks of the deep, sluggish bayou; and she did not come back again.

Some weeks later there was a curious scene enacted at L'Abri. In the center of the smoothly swept back yard was a great bonfire. Armand Aubigny sat in the wide hallway that commanded a view of the spectacle; and it was he who dealt out to a half dozen negroes the material which kept this fire ablaze.

A graceful cradle of willow, with all its dainty furbishings, was laid upon the pyre, which had already been fed with the richness of a priceless layette. Then there were silk gowns, and velvet and satin ones added to these; laces, too, and embroideries; bonnets and gloves; for the corbeille had been of rare quality.

The last thing to go was a tiny bundle of letters; innocent little scribblings that Désirée had sent to him during the days of their espousal. There was the remnant of one back in the drawer from which he took them. But it was not Désirée's; it was part of an old letter from his mother to his father. He read it. She was thanking God for the blessing of her husband's love:—

“But above all,” she wrote, “night and day, I thank the good God for having so arranged our lives that our dear Armand will never know that his mother, who adores him, belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery.”

Footnotes

  1. Having found no comfort from Armand, Desiree pleads with her mother to protect her from the accusation that she is not white. Interestingly, she uses the words “they” and “them” when relaying these accusations, suggesting that while Armand has directly been cruel to her, the rest of society will be equally as cruel. The claim that she “must die” also emphasizes how desperate Desiree is and how powerless she feels. Her life has completely revolved around Armand and his support for her; now it’s being stripped away.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. As Desiree struggles to understand the revelation about the baby, she tries to convince herself that she is not to blame. Unfortunately at this time, having a black relative corrupted one’s social standing, hence her hysterical insistence that she is white. Her laughter likely indicates a weakening of her mental fortitude, especially considering how cold and cruel her husband is being towards her.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Desiree 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 Desiree describes will be permanent, or if his true character is unchangeable.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Although Armand’s “imperious and exacting nature” has been “softened” by love and the birth of his child, Desiree is still subject to his mood swings. During this time, women were expected to shape their lives around the needs and desires of their husbands. Desiree’s own moods and emotions are thus tied to Armand’s; if he is unhappy, so is she. Armand thus has even more power over his wife, and Desiree’s extreme emotional dependance on her husband reflects the sexist societal beliefs of the time.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Armand is powerful in a number of ways as a white, wealthy male in a patriarchal and racist society. When he is upset, the ways in which his power intersects is emphasized. Armand is violent towards his slaves, he determines both his wife’s happiness and her livelihood, and he even uses his power over his female slaves in atrocious ways. Armand’s mistreatment of those with less agency is intersectional in nature, complicating the theme of intersectionality and racism.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. 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 is part-black, not Desiree. This dramatic plot twist makes the ending of the story, and the story itself, all the more ironic and devastating. Furthermore, Armand’s fate is extremely ironic here. He has treated 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 African American himself.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. After Desiree and the baby have disappeared, Armand decides to remove all traces of their existence by burning their possessions. If we recall the last image of fire associated with Armand’s passion for Desiree, then this passage becomes even more symbolic. His wife no longer holds any value for Armand because of her mixed heritage. Notice again the way that Chopin emphasizes Armand’s intersectional power. His own slaves are actually doing the work here, and Desiree’s reputation is the only one suffers because he is a wealthy, white landowner, and she is a woman now believed to be part-black. She would have beared “shame” and he would have been largely unaffected.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Desiree’s decision to end her own life emphasizes just how deeply racist this society is. Desiree understands the social, political, and economic consequences that being mixed-race entails for both herself and her son. Chopin also highlights the internalized racism that manifests from a society like this: Desiree now sees herself as inferior, as someone who is part African American. Her choice also signals the few options that women had during this time. Desiree has been dependant on Armand financially, and he has rejected her because of her race. While Desiree could have listened to her mother, her confidence and self-esteem were so shattered by her husband and her position in society that she likely felt that she had no other recourse.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. While not overtly stated, we can infer from the ominous language that Desiree 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.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Although this is not the stone pillar from before, Chopin associates Desiree with the imagery of stone to symbolize a transition in Desiree’s life. Armand, once completely in love with Desiree, has now turned icy and cruel after her race has been called into question.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Notice that the theme of fate and Providence is again emphasized here, but this time it is complicated by Armand’s dark nature. Unlike Madame Valmonde’s positive outlook on God and destiny, Armand assumes that God is punishing him “unjustly.” Armand sees his child’s heritage as a “cruel” and intentional curse from God. His love for his child is thus entirely conditional, just as his love for his “beloved” wife has been revealed to be. This assures the reader Armand’s “change” in nature from before was, in fact, temporary.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. Madame Valmonde’s reply is not particularly comforting for Desiree; rather, she simply advises her to come home. It is unclear why Madame Valmonde gave these instructions, whether out of fear for her daughter’s future, or something else. However, notice that Madame Valmonde tells her to come back to her “mother who loves [her].” Madame Valmonde’s love for her adopted daughter proves unconditional, unlike Armand’s.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. When the narrator says that Desiree considers “all that this accusation meant for her,” it is suggested that Armand assumes that Desiree is either part African American or has had an affair with an African American man. Notice the irony in this sexist accusation. Armand can have an “affair” with an unwilling slave, but even the idea of Desiree having an affair disgusts him. Further, Armand is never asked to defend his heritage because he is a man while Desiree immediately must do so

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. During this time, a person with any amount of African American heritage was seen as non-white, regardless of appearance. This belief stemmed from racist ideologies of “purity” in bloodline and the negative perception of interracial relationships. Those who were white in appearance, but had any African American lineage, were seen as inferior. When Armand immediately accuses Desiree of not being white, he is making the sexist and racist assumption that his wife is the one to “blame” for the child’s mixed heritage. Armand sees himself as a wealthy and “pure” white man, so by his logic he must be free from suspicion.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Armand’s cruel reply delivers another blow to Desiree, who tried to appeal to him with her physical attributes. The nature of his cruel reply immediately after Desiree 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 part black or full 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  16. As Desiree stares at her baby and La Blanche’s boy, she finally comes to a realization about what has been bothering her. Readers will recall Desiree’s mother’s initial cry of “This is not the baby!” and deduce that Desiree’s baby has something in common with La Blanche’s boy. The idea that her son may have black heritage causes her to cry out. Despite the difficulties that Desiree faces in this society as a woman, even she is not very tolerant or open-minded when it comes to matters of race.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  17. 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 suddenly and terribly began treating his slaves.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  18. Desiree’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 Desiree gives us an indication that it may not be permanent. However, her blind 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  19. This offensive term refers to a person who has one black grandparent, making them one-quarter black. The quantification of skin color ratios like this were yet another way that the slave-owning whites classified and dehumanized their slaves.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  20. Color, light, and shades of darkness have occurred throughout the story thus far to describe important things like the stone pillar and the window Desiree’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 treating his slaves or something else.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  21. 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 now-offensive “quadroon” to indicate the darkness of one’s skin.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  22. All details in short stories are important, and Chopin’s inclusion of the detail has significance in the story. Since “Desiree’s Baby” is set prior to the American Civil War, slavery is still enforced and attitudes towards interracial relationships were generally condemned. However, France at this time had already done away with slavery and had different views concerning race and social class.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  23. 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 Valmonde can examine the child closely. However the term might also be used in contrast to the child’s skin tone.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  24. Although La Blanche never appears in the story, her name is mentioned quite often. Here, the narrator tells the reader that Armand has been at La Blanche’s cabin, implying that Armand has or has had a sexual relationship with her. Because La Blanche is Armand’s slave, she is deemed his “property.” During this time, male slave-owners would rape female slaves using this awful excuse. This introduces the theme of intersectionality in the short story, a concept that examines oppression from various social, political, economic, and racial perspectives.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  25. At this point in the story, it is still unclear as to why Madame Valmonde 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 Desiree. Desiree, however, only understands her mother’s cry as a sign of the child’s growth since his birth.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  26. 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.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  27. Chopin uses small details here to subtly remind the reader that Desiree is wealthy. She can afford not to work, and all of the maternal care is performed by a waiting nurse. We can assume that the waiting nurse is likely a slave since during this time, slave-owners owned slaves who worked both in the plantation and in the home. It would have been common for someone of Desiree’s wealth to have a slave to do much of the child-rearing for her.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  28. Notice the contrast between Armand and his father’s temperaments. Armand’s father was “easy-going” and “indulgent”; under his “rule,” the slaves on the L’Abri plantation were “gay” (happy). However, Armand is a “strict” ruler, and the under his cruel authority, the slaves are no longer “happy.” However, both men were slave owners, and even though Armand’s father may have been less violent than Armand, he is still advancing a system that denies basic rights to African Americans.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  29. A “pall” is a cloth that is spread over a coffin or hearse. Chopin chooses imagery that reveals the dark nature of the L’Abri plantation. The “sad,” “wide,” “black,” appearance of the house, and the description of the “solemn oaks” creates an ominous tone. Madame Valmonde’s shivering suggests that the L’Abri plantation is dark, cold, and eerie place. Further, the appearance of the plantation mirrors Armand’s own characteristics just as Desiree’s outward appearance mirrors her internal character.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  30. Armand’s hasty dismissal of Monsieur Valmonde’s cautions seems to be driven primarily by his overwhelming passion for Desiree, rather than his true lack of concern about her origins.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  31. Monsieur Valmonde cautioned Armand because of his concern that Desiree’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 Desiree has been brought up in a wealthy family, her heritage is unknown. This would have been seen as a serious issue for many suitors. Chopin foreshadows events to come with this cautionary line.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  32. "Mais si" [French] = literally "But if" but in the context a looser translation could be "But of course, Madame."

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  33. 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.

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  34. 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 Desiree’s sweet and gentle nature. The description here also foreshadows darker aspects of Armand’s character.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  35. Notice that Desiree is standing by the same stone pillar when she meets Armand. The stone pillar thus also symbolizes the various transitions that Desiree experiences throughout her life. Under this stone pillar, Desiree was given her first home, and now that she has won the affection of Armand, Desiree will move to a new home once again. However, consider how Desiree is a passive bystander, claimed by others during both of these transitions. Her quiet and passive role in both situations emphasizes the societal position of women in society at this time.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  36. Notice that it is Desiree’s beauty that Armand has fallen instantly in love with, not her mind. Armand considers Desiree’s appearance as her single, defining trait. During this time, a woman’s beauty was much more valued than her wit or intelligence. So, Armand’s refusal to see Desiree as anything but a lovely face is representative of the attitude towards women in general.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  37. When Madame Valmonde finds Desiree, she sees Desiree as a gift and blessing from God. Rather than taking her to an orphanage, she raises her as her own. Notice that Madame Valmonde’s interpretation of the situation ultimately decides Desiree’s fate. Had Madame Valmonde not attributed the child’s circumstances to God’s will, she might not have taken her in. This complicates the theme of fate and destiny, as Chopin suggests that our perceptions affect our decisions and their subsequent outcomes.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  38. 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 Valmondes find Desiree 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.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  39. The narrator relays the rumor that baby Desiree was left on a wagon that was then placed on a ferry to cross some body of water. From this context, we can infer that “Coton Mais” is the name of the person who owns or operates the ferry.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  40. In rural Louisiana, a large stone pillar would seem fairly conspicuous. So, readers should see the pillar as a distinct symbol in this short story. Consider that baby Desiree’s position in the dark shadows of the pillar symbolizes the mysterious circumstances of her birth. Her past is unknown to both the reader and the Valmondes, creating a tone of secrecy and mystery. As the pillar stands at the gates of the Valmonde estate, it also symbolizes the family’s wealth and Desiree’s privileged upbringing.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  41. Valmonde is the name of the plantation that Desiree grew up on with her parents, the Valmondes. Since plantations were owned by wealthy white people, this detail subtly informs the reader that the Valmondes are prosperous.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff
  42. L’Abri is French for “the shelter.” In this short story, L’Abri is the name of the plantation that Desiree now lives on with her husband, Armand Aubigny.

    — Kayla, Owl Eyes Staff