A Pair of Silk Stockings

by Kate Chopin

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Explain the five parts of the plot for "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin.

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Typically, the five parts of a plot included in Freitag's triangle are exposition (the revelation of background information that will help us to understand the story), rising action (the action leading up to the climax), the climax itself (the most tension-filled moment of the text and/or the turning point), the falling action (action following the climax that relates to the conflict), and the denouement (the tying up of loose ends and resolution of the conflict).

In this story, the exposition includes the information about Mrs. Sommers's recent financial acquisition and what her (and her family's) life has been like in the past. The rising action begins with Mrs. Sommers beginning to run her hand absently "upon a pile of silk stockings." She sees that they are on sale and that there are several in her size; she is tempted by them as they "glide serpent-like through her fingers." The rising action continues throughout her shopping and lunch. The climax occurs when the play she sees is complete. "It was like a dream ended." Now what will she do? The falling action begins after this, with "People scatter[ing] in all directions." Mrs. Sommers goes to wait for the cable car. Ultimately, in the denouement, Mrs. Sommers experiences a "poignant wish, a powerful longing that the cable car would . . . go on and on with her forever."

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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.

Exposition-

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.

Rising Action-

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.

Climax-

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.

Falling action-

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.

Conclusion

 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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