In "A Pair of Silk Stockings," what does Mrs. Sommers plan to do with the extra fifteen dollars?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Kate Chopin's "A Pair of Silk Stockings," "little" Mrs. Sommers has, for some reason, found herself with an extra fifteen dollars, and she enjoys the feeling of "importance" that this windfall gives her. She contemplates the fact that it has been a long time since she enjoyed such an amount of spare cash and she does not intend to waste it. It is significant that she is referred to as "little" because it emphasizes her status as being less significant as a person, an individual, and more important as the central care giver to her family. The fact that the money gives her a feeling of importance confirms this. Usually, all the money would be allocated and she would therefore have no say, no feeling of control and now it is different. Even though she still feels obliged to spend the money on her family, she relishes the decision-making capacity it allows her, the freedom of choice previously denied her.  

First of all, she intends to spend a little extra on her daughter's shoes because it would be "judicious" to do so. She will buy material and socks for all the children and a pattern to make a gown for her other daughter. Then there will be caps and sailor hats. She is genuinely excited by the prospect of seeing her children looking "fresh and dainty."  

However, while recovering from feeling faint and realizing that she forgot to have lunch, the velvety feel of a pair of silk stockings catches her attention, having brushed accidentally against her hand. The texture, and the fact that the sales assistant thinks she wishes to purchase a pair, makes her feel embarrassed and special at the same time. All thoughts of making her way to the "bargain" counter leave her and, enraptured by her new purchase, she continues the trend and shops for other luxury items and even lunch and a play. She wishes for the experience and the feeling to continue indefinitely. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. Sommers plans "a proper and judicious use of the money."  Having had to be frugal throughout her marriage, Mrs. Sommers has pondered for days the use of the fifteen dollars, considering only the "needs of the present."  But, on the day that she shops. Mrs. Sommers feels faint and tired.  Her fatigue does not just seem to be physical; Mrs. Sommers is probably weary of being so self-sacrificing because she succumbs to the feel of the silk stockings as they "glide serpent-like through her fingers."

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A Pair of Silk Stockings

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