A Pair of Silk Stockings

by Kate Chopin
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Chopin describes the main character in "A Pair of Silk Stockings" as 'Little Mrs. Sommers." What do think she looks like? What clues does the author provide?

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In the short story, "A Pair of Silk Stockings," by Kate Chopin, the author only gives hints concerning the appearance of Mrs. Sommers. At the onset of the story, Mrs. Sommers has fifteen dollars which she stuffs into her old porte-monnaie, her small purse. She dreams...

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In the short story, "A Pair of Silk Stockings," by Kate Chopin, the author only gives hints concerning the appearance of Mrs. Sommers. At the onset of the story, Mrs. Sommers has fifteen dollars which she stuffs into her old porte-monnaie, her small purse. She dreams of ways to spend this money which include providing for her children's needs. The reader learns very little about Mrs. Sommers except for the fact that she is poor and has seen "better days" prior to becoming Mrs. Sommers.

However, her awakening begins when she purchases the silk stockings. She luxuriates in the feel of the silk when she puts on the stockings. It is evident that Mrs. Sommers is fairly young and attractive even though she is enduring difficult times. When she is fitted for the new shoes, the reader learns that she has a pretty foot and ankle. Again, this alludes to a young, attractive woman. At the close of the story, a man on the cable car notices her "small, pale face." It is likely Mrs. Sommers is a woman in her twenties who is attractive and has a small build. She also has pale, white skin. Mrs. Sommers dreams of better days, and even though her present life is wearing her out, she still has a sense of style and adventure as she spends the day fulfilling her own needs. I would suggest she has sparkling eyes that still reflect her sense of self worth.

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"Little Mrs. Sommers" is not given much of a physical description in the short story at all. She is described has having pale cheeks, and being tired. Her life situation is also described; Mrs. Sommers has 4 children, all of whom seem to be young still. (The story describes the energy Mrs. Sommers uses to get her children ready, indicating that they are still fairly young). Given these images, and the fact that Mrs. Sommers used to be familiar with luxury before she was Mrs. Sommers, I tend to picture a petite, relatively thin woman in her mid-twenties to early-thirties. She is a woman who looks like she was had money, but now seems worn (yet determined). She is not attention demanding in appearance, but neither is she plain or haggard. Mostly importantly, she carried an expression of one who wants to escape, yet feels guilty for having such a desire. 

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