What is the plot of "A Pair of Silk Stockings," Kate Chopin's short story?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The plot, which is the conflict and resolution, is that Mrs. Sommers receives a windfall of money and must determine how to spend it.  This symbolically represents her receiving a windfall of autonomy (in the form of money) that she must decide how to use.  At first she intends to divert the windfall to buying gifts for her children, but through unexpected circumstances (skipped lunch, exhaustion from hurried work) she is lured step-by-accidental-step to spend all the money on herself for a brief moment of autonomy from the restraints of her present reality of life (marriage, husband, children, home to keep).  The resolution of the plot is what Mrs. Sommers feels upon returning home: Does she feel liberated or more conscious of her limitations?

Mrs. Sommers, who has seen "better days" during which she read glossy magazines--but she never thought of those days as the necessities of the moment compelled her--received a tidy sum of money. She deliberated over how to invest it, deciding upon improving her children's wardrobes. On the day of the bargain-hunting shopping trip, she was overworked and missed luncheon and so sat aimlessly at a shop counter feeling weak and disoriented. Then she felt the silk stockings. The feel and shimmer of them led her to buy them. She replaced her cotton stockings with the silk and abandoning thought (once again), moved on an impulse to buy herself luxuries. At the end of the day, on the street car, she had a wish for the moment to continue into perpetuity.

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