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Little Mrs. Sommers faces a decision in Kate Chopin’s “A Pair of Silk Stockings.” What should she do with the extra $15 that she as in her purse? This money has given her a feeling of importance that she has not had for many years.
The story takes place in the late 1880s. The protagonist Mrs. Sommers, a mother of four children, is in town shopping. Normally, a thrifty and unselfish mother, Mrs. Sommers knows the value of a dollar and where to find bargains. She does not know what she will do with the extra $15. The reader never knows from where the money came.
Her children need many things; however, she is tempted by the material things that she cannot and has not been able to have. Mrs. Sommers has always thought of family first. Today, however, something is different.
Mrs. Sommers is sitting in a drug store and suddenly places her hand on a pair of silk stockings. This is the crux of the story. She has never felt anything as wonderful as this hosiery. The minute she buys the silk stockings is the minute she becomes a different Mrs. Sommers. The conflicts enter the story: man versus himself and man versus society. Suddenly, everything she owns is shabby or old. She questions her life. Her entire demeanor changes from “mother of the year” to “I want more.”
When she puts on the silk stockings, her attitude changes entirely. She buys herself a new pair of shoes, gloves, and magazines. Then, Mrs. Sommers treats herself to an expensive dinner.
Finally, she treats herself to a play at the theatre, where she sits next to some Now, she is one of those rich important people, and everyone knows it, thanks to all the material things she has. This becomes evident when Chopin says:
She was fastidious, and she was not too easily pleased.
The end of the play signifies the end of Mrs. Sommers’ “luxurious times." Mrs. Sommers is lost with all the other “gaudy” women, when, “like a dream ended”, the play ends.
The lady finds her way to the cable car that will take her home. Surprisingly, the cable car driver thinks that Mrs. Sommers is just another “rich lady." A man on the cable car sitting opposite to Mrs. Sommers looks at her and seems to like what he sees.
Mrs. Sommers averts her eyes, but deep inside her, she is pleased. Dreading to go home and return to her life of drudgery, the story ends with Mrs. Sommers sitting in a cable car, wishing that it would continue traveling forever.
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