A Pair of Silk Stockings

by Kate Chopin

Start Free Trial

What are some examples of imagery in "A Pair of Silk Stockings"?

There are many examples of imagery in "A Pair of Silk Stockings," including, perhaps, the most significant one, which is the visual and tactile image of the stockings that Mrs. Sommers finds herself absentmindedly stroking in the department store. The silk is "soft" and "sheeny," and the stockings "glisten" and "glide" through her fingers.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Imagery consists of descriptions that appeal to our physical senses: there is visual imagery, which describes something we might see, olfactory imagery, which describes something we could smell, tactile imagery, which describes something we could touch, gustatory imagery, which describes what we might taste, and auditory imagery, which describes something we would hear. The first image we get in the story is a visual one: the sight of Mrs. Sommers's purse which is "stuffed and bulged" with her new small fortune.

Further, the visual imagery associated with Mrs. Sommers's dreams for her children enables us to see them clearly: "She would get caps for the boys and sailor-hats for the girls," and she dreams of them looking "fresh and dainty and new" rather than dressed in patched and darned clothes that have been mended again and again.

Perhaps one of the most significant images of the story is actually tactile. When Mrs. Sommers finds herself out and feeling rather listless from having not eaten,

An all-gone limp feeling had come over her and she rested her hand aimlessly upon the counter. She wore no gloves. By degrees she grew aware that her hand had encountered something very soothing, very pleasant to touch. She looked down to see that her hand lay upon a pile of silk stockings.

It seems to be the physical sensation of stroking the lovely, soft fabric that compels Mrs. Sommers to deviate from her original plan. She is soothed by the touch, the "soft, sheeny" feeling of the silk, as well as the way the fabric seems to "glisten" and "glide serpent-like through her fingers." This image actually combines the visual with the tactile, making the image even more arresting, and the simile draws attention to just how tempting this item is for a woman who has had no such luxuries in so very long.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team