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In "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin, what are some characteristics of Mrs....

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rufus10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 1, 2009 at 9:23 AM via web

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In "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin, what are some characteristics of Mrs. Sommers?

The question of symbolism in A Pair of Silk Stockings has been answered here: http://www.enotes.com/a-pair-of-silk-stockings/q-and-a/what-elements-symbolisim-used-pair-silk-stokings-109207

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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 22, 2009 at 12:53 AM (Answer #1)

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In A Pair of Silk Stockings, Kate Chopin ascribes numerous valuable characteristics to Mrs. Sommers. In fact, Chopin reveals to us no negative traits at all. Mrs. Sommers has no animosity, regret, disgust, greed or selfishness. Her worst trait is that in a moment of fatigue, hunger and prolonged anxiety and anticipation, she enjoys the touch and colors of a collection of fine silk stockings.

Chopin shows that Mrs. Sommers is careful, deliberate and frugal. We are told that Mrs. Sommers, doesn't want to "act hastily" to do anything with her unexpected wealth that she might regret. Mrs. Sommers knows the "value of bargains" and can elbow, snatch and grab her way with determination to affordable necessities, like shirting, for her family.

Mrs. Sommers is a considerate and conscientious mother. She mends, darns, and skillfully patches for them. She becomes excited and anticipatory at the thought of her children in good looking clothes. Mrs. Sommers is conscientious to the point of overworking and neglecting herself as on the day of her shopping trip when she overlooked "swallowing a bite" of luncheon (the long form of the shortened word lunch), which is integrally tied to the conflict (plot) of the story.

Additionally, Mrs. Sommers is not selfindulgent or given to regrets or negative emotions. She never "indulged in morbid retrospection" about her past "better days." She only had time to devote to the demands of the present.

Mrs. Sommers is a reasonable woman who has sensible expectations of herself and other people. She tells the shoe salesman that she is willing to accept a small increase in price if she can get what she "desires." And at her stop at the restaurant, she tells the waiter that she doesn't want a "profusion" of food but just a "tasty bite," and in fact has a modest though delicious meal.

Above all, as she herself learns and we along with her, Mrs. Sommers is intelligent and elegant--still. She buys her magazines and enjoys reading them. She walks with a greater bearing. She draws no undue attention when she enters the restaurant or as she removes "her gloves very leisurely" to lay them beside her. She converses freely with the other lady at the theater. In fact, they share a laugh, a tear and a chocolate together.

In the cable car on the way home to her family, as she feels that she is out of place in the world she once chose for love, it is her "poignant wish, a powerful longing," without regret or rancor, that the savory recollection of her moment of return to her better days could go on without end.

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