This essay explores how to infer from a text the image of the implied author. It examines Kate Chopin's “Désirée's Baby” (1893), which has been widely regarded as an indictment of racism but which an “overall consideration” of the implied author's choices will lead us to see as a racist text. Through the interaction of various details in the text, the implied author suggests three racist dichotomies: (1) white characters' nondiscrimination versus black characters' discrimination, (2) positive slavery under white masters versus negative slavery under a black master, and (3) superior whites versus inferior blacks. This implied racist stance reflects the historical context of Chopin's personal experiences, but it contrasts with the quite different racial stances of the implied authors of some other Chopin narratives with different thematic designs. The complexity of the narratives under the name “Kate Chopin” offers an opportunity not only to gain a better understanding of the concept of implied author but also to clarify the relations (connections as well as disparities) among textual, intertextual, and extratextual evidence in literary interpretation in general.
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Dan Shen; Implied Author, Overall Consideration, and Subtext of “Désirée's Baby”. Poetics Today 1 June 2010; 31 (2): 285–311. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-2009-021
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