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Kate Chopin’s Desiree’s Baby – The Formalistic Approach

The Formalistic Approach to Desiree’s Baby

Kate Chopin’s narrative of “Desiree’s Daughter” created a sense of ambiguity among the reader until the last few sentences

of the story. However, the Formalistic Approach to Literature helps one to review the texts and notice countless relationships

between the detailed components and conclusion of the story. These elements draw clues and foreshadow the events that

happen throughout the duration and climax of the narrative. Close reading will help one to depict the devices used to help

carry the audience through the plot and suggest the resolution. Some of the most prominent devices used by Chopin are word

choice, reference, and repetition. Each of these were used to make particular characteristics that are more important to the

narrative less difficult to recognize.

Chopin’s word choice hinted toward the overall theme of the narrative. The word plantation is used almost immediately

in the story. It automatically suggests slavery and racial conflict. Monsieur Valmonde concerns himself with Desiree’s

indistinct origin while on the other hand, the man who falls in love with her is not. This dichotomy could carry a sense of real

love or set an idea that Armand is falling into a commitment blindfolded and ignorant to what he’s getting in to. But because he

carries an infamous name, Armand does not see a problem. Furthermore, he too does not know that entirety of where he


Chopin used bland colors and hues of the flesh descriptively. From the beginning to the end of the story, there was a

constant resonance of especially the words white, yellow, and brown. The reader woul…

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…siree’s Baby” demonstrated several examples of how the Formalistic Approach to Literature can help the reader in

understanding the text. Repetition and choice of intense color descriptions, key words that foreshadow the fire, and breaks

that signify a change in emotion or present new material aided Chopin in communicating the narrative. Without these

components that exist throughout, the reader would be lost even after the conclusion of the story. Being a close reader is not a

difficult task to achieve. However, it would take reading “Desiree’s Baby” in portions and collectively several times before one is able to recognize the individual strands of the text.


Guerin, et al., ed. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature, fourth edition. Oxford UP.

Eric Rabkin, Stories. HarperCollins.

An Insightful Journey in Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse

An Insightful Journey in Woolf’s To The Lighthouse

The lighthouse stands in the distance. It signifies a far off place that takes planning and work to reach. Depending on your perspective, the lighthouse may look different. It may appear large or small, short or tall, it may be dark and musty or bright and clear. Perspective is defined by Random House dictionary as “a broad view of events or ideas in their true nature and relationships”. Virginia Woolf, in To The Lighthouse, takes an insightful journey into the true nature of relationships through the perspective of many different characters. Many times throughout the novel, especially in the first part, it is difficult to decipher who Woolf is speaking through, whose perspective she is taking, but as the novel unfolds it becomes clear that there really is only one reality.
It seems as though the first section of this novel is written in a completely different facet than are the other two. “The Window”, which is the opening section of the novel, is 6 times as long as the second part and twice as long as the last. It has echoes of love and poses questions of destiny. Through the many perspectives taken, the first section is thought provoking. What will happen to the characters of this story? This first section reveals a large array of emotions and it tackles many characters while posing many questions. What is life about? How do parents function in the eyes of their children? What is true success? How does one make things meaningful? The last two sections of the novel are devoted to making sense of the first, but in a drastically different tone. These sections are tainted with death and with the issu…

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…p; The ending to this novel is a perspective entirely different then one given before. Lily finishes her painting. What this says is that she has come to terms with her role. She knows who she is and who she wants to be. “Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision” (209). She, like Mrs. Ramsay, has found a place where she is happy. They are two different women who struggled, maybe not equally, to find that place where their roles seemed to signify a better place for them. Lily may not have been the “mother”, but she took on another role, one that was more difficult to come to grips with. She will leave that experience with a new perspective, one that will transcend to other women. I think the more the perspective changes, the closer woman will find themselves to the lighthouse.

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