The shopping trip that Mrs. Sommers takes, where she acts so out of her character, is foreshadowed by the way in which she arrives at the store so tired and exhausted, not having had any lunch, and sits down in something of a daze and begins to stroke something on a nearby table with her hand. When she realises that what she is stroking is a pile of silk stockings, note the description that is applied to them:
But she went on feeling the soft, sheeny luxurious things--with both hands now, holding them up to see them glisten, and to feel them glide serpentlike through her fingers.
The use of the word "serpentlike" in this description is extremely significant because serpents are used to represent temptation. Just as Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so Mrs. Sommers is tempted by the "serpentlike" stockings to spend all the money on herself. Thus this descriptive note effectively foreshadows what is to come by indicating the way in which Mrs. Sommers will be seduced by memories of the luxury she once enjoyed.