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Kate Chopin’s Desiree’s Baby

Desiree’s Baby is a short story written by Kate Chopin. It is set in

19th century Louisiana. The story starts with Madame Valmonde going to

visit Desiree and her baby. She thinks back on her memories of Desiree

as a baby:

“It made her laugh to think of Desiree with a baby.

Why it seemed but yesterday that Desiree was little

more than a baby herself.”

This quote tells us two things. The first is that Madame Valmonde must

have known Desiree as a child and is either a close family friend of

even a member of the family herself. The second thing is that Desiree

is young. The word “baby” could either mean childlike or physically

young. Desiree seemed to be a normal child and had had a normal

childhood. The third paragraph tells us more about Desiree’s


“She had been purposely left by a band of passing


This makes us think that she he had been abandoned at a very young age

outside Madame Valmonde´s home. We can also tell from paragraph five

that “She was nameless.”

No one knew what her name was or what her family background was like.

It was all a rumour.

Eighteen years after this, Armand Aubigny fell in love with Desiree.

From the fifth paragraph of the first page we can tell that Armand was

very proud of his family name.

“What did it matter about a name when he could give

her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana?”

This is a very old fashioned point of view. To Armand, his name was

everything. There is a very strong social contrast between the

nameless Desiree and Armand.

Signs of racism become apparent in the book on page 67:

“Young Aubigny´s rule was a strict one, too, and under

it his Negroes had forgotten how to be happy.”

Armand must have treated them very harshly and made them unhappy. His

home is described as being sad looking and quite dreary.

The second paragraph of page 67 gives the reader a description of the

type of home Armand owns. There are muslins, a couch decorated with

laces, there are also slaves. Madame Valmonde´s first reaction to the

baby was one of shock and astonishment:

“This is not the baby!”

Theoretically this isn’t very significant because babies tend to grow

very quickly and their outward appearance can change very fast. The

eighth paragraph on this page gives us a hint at why Madame Valmondé

was so startled when she first saw the baby.

“Madame Valmonde had never removed her eyes from the

child. She lifted it and walked with it over to the window

The Drover’s Wife: Hardship of Life in the Outback

The Drover’s Wife: Hardship of Life in the Outback

The short-story “The Drover’s Wife” is written by Henry Lawson, Australia’s most famous short-story writer and poet. “The Drover’s Wife” is probably Lawson’s best-known work, and was first published in the collection entitled “While the Billy Boils” in 1892. Lawson was deeply interested in the effects of the harsh Australian outback on people’s lives, having himself spent 18 months in the bush. This was expressed in a number of so-called “bush ballads” and stories, “The Drover’s Wife” being one of them.

This short-story has the Australian bush or outback as its setting. This is revealed in the two first paragraphs, where the author makes a short and precise description of the little house and the surrounding landscape. To tell the time of the story is, however, more difficult. The text gives us only a few clues to when it might have happened. The most obvious one is, “The drought of 18 – ruined him”. First I thought that 18 meant 1918, but considering that the short-story was written in 1892, this must be wrong. The year referred to is most probably 1818.

The main conflict in “The Drover’s Wife” is perhaps not so evident as we may think. At first it is quite easy to imagine that there is a conflict between the bush woman and the snake. The reason for that is that the snake is a threat to the woman. If she does not kill it, the snake can bite one of the children, which will be a disaster since it is nineteen miles to the nearest neighbor. The child would be dead before they could get help.

However, this conflict is only a consequence of the main conflict, which is mentioned in a sentence early in the text, “The drover, an ex-squatter, is away with sheep. His wife and children are left here alone.” The main problem is that the wife is left alone to deal with the hardships of life in the Australian bush. In my opinion Lawson uses the incident with the snake to uncover the bush woman’s struggles against the outback.

The point of view used in “The Drover’s Wife” is the Third person Limited voice. Lawson has told the story form the bush woman’s perspective. That allows us to see into her thoughts and feelings.

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