Désirée was a young woman of unknown origin who was found and adopted by Madame Valmondé. She grew up to be beautiful and gentle, and eventually caught the eye of Armand Aubigny, a wealthy plantation owner.
Armand fell in love with Désirée and married her, despite her mysterious background. The couple was happy, and Désirée soon became pregnant.
When their baby was born, it became apparent that the child had a darker skin tone, suggesting mixed-race heritage. This caused tension in the family, as Armand began to suspect that Désirée was not white. He became distant and cold towards her, and his treatment of their slaves worsened. Désirée, heartbroken and confused, reached out to her adoptive mother for help.
Madame Valmondé, upon seeing the baby, confirmed that the child appeared to be of mixed race. She advised Désirée to return home with her child, but Désirée was desperate for answers. She confronted Armand, who coldly accused her of not being white and demanded that she leave.
"It means," he answered lightly, "that the child is not white; it means that you are not white."
Devastated, Désirée disappeared with her baby into the bayou, never to be seen again.
In the aftermath of Désirée's departure, Armand decided to burn all of her belongings, including their baby's cradle and clothes. While going through her letters, he discovered a letter from his own mother to his father. The letter revealed that it was actually Armand who had mixed-race heritage, as his mother was of African descent. This revelation came too late, as Désirée and their child had already vanished, leaving Armand to face the consequences of his actions and the truth about his own heritage.
"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."