So many decisions in life are made by impulsive judgments and quick choices. Humans are seemingly hardwired to see a situation and jump right in. However, hasty decisions are not always the best choices people make. As Kate Chopin shows in the short story “Desiree’s Baby,” impulsive judgments can have disastrous consequences in life, marriage and knowledge.
One of the main characters in “Desiree’s Baby” seems to be prone to making his choices without giving them much thought. Armand Aubigny falls in love with Desiree “as if struck by a pistol shot” (Chopin). He does not care that she has no clear origin and no family name. All he knows is he loves Desiree and therefore no other thoughts are important. If he had hesitated on the marriage, taking time for important considerations, it may have prevented the eventual disintegration of his marriage and the demise of his wife.
The main thoughtless judgment that took place in Chopin’s story is a matter of race. When Armand realizes his baby is not white, he automatically assumes that Desiree is the culprit without examining any other explanations. If he had looked at other evidence at any point, many things would have tipped him off to the possibility of his own origin being of a non-white race. For example, Chopin mentions that Armand has a “dark, handsome face.” When Desiree compares her appearance to Armand’s, she finds her skin “whiter than yours, Armand” (Chopin). Desiree is clearly the paler of the two.
Armand makes many assumptions about Desiree’s heritage and those assumptions lead to further judgment of Desiree’s character. He presumes that since she is an orphan that she must be the one with a black parent. He seems to forget that his own mother was from another country. He was young when she died and no one around him knew her. He probably knew very little about her past. Even though he said earlier in the story that Desiree’s background does not matter, this statement is clearly not true. Because Armand believes Desiree is of black origin, she is suddenly unworthy to be his wife. He does not stop to think; instead he makes an instant determination to remove her from his home.
Armand assumes that, “Almighty God had dealt cruelly and unjustly with him” (Chopin). He thinks this because he has decided Desiree is part black. He tells her to leave and does not even say good-bye. All this is done to get revenge on God and fate. However, his instincts were again wrong. In throwing out Desiree and burning her possessions he discovers the ultimate situational irony. As he pulls out her belongings he discovers that his rash decisions have been wrong from the start. He is the one with the tainted past, not Desiree. All the signs he has been ignoring converge to slap him with the truth.
It could be said that the first judgment made by Armand, to marry Desiree without thought, was actually a good instinct to follow. In the end, Desiree turned out to be of the type of origin he preferred. She turned out to be a good prospect for a wife and mother. Nevertheless, Armand proved that the details of her past did matter to him, even if the particulars he perceived were not accurate. He should have taken her history into consideration at first. This would have prevented the disappearance of an innocent woman and her child. It also likely would have prevented Armand from gaining unwelcome facts about his own history.
The old maxim, “Look before you leap,” is fitting to Armand’s situation in “Desiree’s Baby.” Armand jumped to many conclusions that led to foolish actions. If Armand had stopped to contemplate his true feelings and the complete facts of the situation, the conclusion could have been drastically different. Chopin proves in her story that first instincts aren’t always the best basis for action.