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Desirees Baby And Trifles Essay Research Paper

Desiree`s Baby And Trifles Essay, Research Paper

The authors Kate Chopin of ?Desiree?s Baby? and Susan Glaspell of Trifles

present a caste system of the 19th century. They both focus upon the theme of

the inferiority of women with respect to marriage, gender, and prospective

positions in a caste system of society. Actually, these two authors can be

thought of as feminists of their times. Surely, many readers thought that these

two authors were very liberal in their writing. Many of today?s readers would

be in agreement of the women?s plight of past times. In each of the stories,

the women characters are inferior to their husband counterparts. In

?Desiree?s Baby,? Desiree knows she must believe and follow her marriage

vows of ?honor, obey, and respect.? When Armand listens to gossip and does

not inquire further, he believes his wife is not a white woman. He shuns both

her and the baby. Desiree asks him, ?Shall I go, Armand? Do you want me to

go? (Chopin 359). She finally leaves with the child without any pleading or

begging for justice or explanation but out of consent. In addition, the

characterization of Armand points to his dominance over his wife. This is seen

when Desiree realizes ?a strange, an awful change in her husband?s manner,

which she dared not ask him to explain? (358). During this time, women were

forbidden to question their husbands. In Trifles, Mrs. Peters is said to be

?the sheriff?s wife? and ?married to the law? (Glaspell 65). She is

unimportant and belonging to the sheriff more like property that one owns. This

tolerance of being dominated by her male husband is emphasized by Mrs. Peters

stating to Mrs. Hale, ?But Mrs. Hale, the law is the law? (61). Her husband

makes the law for everyone and for her. She does not question him. Glaspell

describes Minnie Foster, later known as Mrs. Wright, as happy when she was

young. She dressed nicely, she sang in a choir, and she was out in society a

great deal. Her husband, Mr. Wright, is characterized as being like a hermit,

?saying folks talked too much anyway? when referring to buying a telephone

(57). Once Mrs.Wright married Mr. Wright, she obeys him and ends up changing her

whole lifestyle. The other husbands? wives notice her change saying ?she

used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of

the town girls singing in the choir. But that?oh, that was thirty years ago?

(60). Because these women were thought of as the ?wives,? they were told

what to do, when to do it, and how to do it by their husbands. The husbands,

because of their gender, see themselves as the authority figures. They do not

value any of the women?s opinions, thoughts, or even intelligence too highly

in these stories because of the women?s gender. In ?Desiree?s Baby,? the

baby is determined to be black; one of the parents is black. Armand sort of

takes the initiative and declares himself, who is of nobility and master of the

plantation by gender not to be the one tainted with the inferior bloodline. This

only leaves Desiree, who does not really know her background. However, it does

not matter. Desiree, being female, assumes the guilt and gets no chance to

explain, or to seek explanation. This is significant because the one who

actually had the black heritage was Armand. In Trifles, the men criticize the

women?s thoughts and opinions. The men even make fun of the women. When the

women are talking about the fruit, the sheriff says, ?Well, can you beat the

women! Held for murder and worryin? about her preserves? (58). Mr. Hale also

says, ?Well, women are used to worrying over trifles,? about the same

situation. Neither man fully comes to understand the significance of the

women?s opinions nor thinks that the women could add anything to help solve

the case at hand. The reader realizes that the women, with their opinions and

thoughts, are the ones who actually figure out the how, who, and why of the

murder. Because of the women?s gender, the men in these patriarchal societies

in each story do not fully realize the women?s? values or intelligence. When

looking closer, one can see that the wives in these marriages are also

restricted to being homemakers and mothers. The males agree that there was not

much more for their wives to do other than being a homemaker or a mother to

their children. In Trifles, the wives talk about their lives and

responsibilities. Mrs. Hale finishes the loaf of bread ?in a manner of

returning to familiar things? (59). Mrs. Peters says, ?she (Mrs. Wright)

wanted an apron,? ?to make her feel more natural? (60). Mrs. Hale then

comments about ?trying to get her own (Mrs. Wright?s) house to turn against

her? (61). The wives comment on ?piecing a quilt? and ?worrying about

her bottles of fruit? (64). All of these comments suggest that all the wives

did was housework. Even the County Attorney remarks on how Mrs. Wright was

?not much of a housekeeper? and how she did not ?have the homemaking

instinct? (59). Later when Mrs. Peters leaves he ?picks up the apron, and

laughs? (65). These remarks intensify the feeling that the husbands thought of

their wives as homemakers. In addition, the reader gets the feeling that the

wives had no free time. Mrs. Hale says, ?there?s a great deal of work to be

done on a farm? and ?farmers? wives have their hands full? (59). Mrs.

Peters remarks ?you were awful busy, Mrs. Hale?your house and your

children? (62). Mrs. Hale mentions ?I?ve not seen much of her of late

years? (59). One can conclude that the wives do all the work around the house

and raise the children with not much spare time left over for them. This conveys

to the husbands the feeling that Minnie Foster could not have had time to commit

the murder. Yet, the women, who see all of the tasks half done, feel that Mrs.

Wright suddenly had to do something right then in her busy day. In

?Desiree?s Baby,? one sees that Armand, the husband, is in charge of all

the work. Chopin writes that ?Young Aubigny?s rule was a strict one, too,

and under it his negroes had forgotten to be gay? (Chopin 357). Living in a

time of plantations and slaves, servants do the work around the house. ?One of

La Blanche?s little quadroon boys stood fanning the child slowly with a fan of

peacock feathers? (358). Desiree is restricted to childbearing and raising

their child. Even Desiree?s mother urges her, ?to come back to your mother

who loves you. Come with your child? (359). In this day, the wives did this

and nothing more than was expected of them. All of the above stated qualities

about marriage lead to one conclusion–the wives of this time were inferior to

their husband counterparts. Today, in a marriage, the wife and the husband are

closer to equal. Today, more women have well-paying jobs that allow them to

share in the support of the family expenses. Today, the thoughts that women are

inferior because of their gender are all but gone. Today, neither the woman nor

the man exclusively does the work around the house. Today, men and women are so

much more independent and self-sufficient that sometimes they do not marry or if

they do, they adjust their marriage vows accordingly. Since so much has changed

with the times, the types of marriages portrayed in these stories are almost

totally gone. The only exceptions would be the ones in movies, which portray

this earlier period. The authors Kate Chopin and Susan Glaspell speak out

against the inferiority of women in these marriages. They each lived close to

the time of their stories and therefore could get a great deal of input by

looking at other marriages and maybe their own. They both show that the women

were essentially belittled and not taken seriously. In the case of Desiree in

?Desiree?s Baby,? this is because of her gender, marriage, and race. In

the case of Mrs. Wright and the other wives in Trifles, this is due to their

gender, social positions, and marriage. For the period that these authors lived

in, the disparaging of women was commonplace. The authors should be commended

for writing such liberating thoughts and ideas that would otherwise never be

thought of in that day and time.

Glaspell, Susan. ?Trifles.? Literary Culture: Reading and Writing

Literary Arguments. Editor L. Bensel-Meyers. Massachusetts: Simon & Schuster

Custom Publishing, 1999. 56-65. Chopin, Kate. ?Desiree?s Baby.? Literary

Culture: Reading and Writing Literary Arguments. Editor L. Bensel-Meyers.

Massachusetts: Simon & Schuster Custom Publishing, 1999. 356-360.