In what ways does the narrative depict how Mrs. Sommers misses her life before she was married in "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In her story "A Pair of Silk Stockings," Chopin depicts how much Mrs. Sommers misses her former life by the delight she displays when she treats herself to personal luxuries.

Having lived under the constraints of motherhood, Mrs. Sommers is constantly worried about money and has had to sacrifice her desires for the necessity of providing for her children. Even then, she has had to compromise on many of the necessities for them, causing her life to seem banal. But, when she becomes the "unexpected possessor" of fifteen dollars, for the first time in a long time, Mrs. Sommers experiences a sense of freedom from having to budget this money. Nevertheless, she feels that she must spend this money for practicalities, such as hats for the children, shoes, and material for new shirts for the boys, and a new gown for her daughter.

On the day that she goes shopping, Mrs. Sommers has forgotten to eat; so, because she feels rather faint, she takes a seat at a lunch counter in a department store. There her hand brushes against "something very soothing, very pleasant to touch." It is a pile of silk stockings, and she cannot resist running her hand along them, feeling the soft, smooth material that glides through her fingers. When the clerk asks if she may help Mrs. Sommers, her resistance is gone; she asks for her size. 

After she purchases the stockings, Mrs. Sommers's hunger for small luxuries waxes and she goes to change out of her cotton stockings in the ladies' waiting room. "How good was the touch of the raw silk to her flesh!"

Admiring how pretty her ankles appear now, she goes to the shoe department and purchases new boots. And, after doing this, she moves to yet another counter where she fits her hands with kid gloves.

Having completely surrendered to her own pleasure, Mrs. Sommers spends the afternoon luxuriating in her new possessions, as well as attending a matinée. When the play is over and Mrs. Sommers must catch the trolley for home, "it was like a dream ended." But, she will treasure the memory of the day that she was again carefree.