What are some of Mrs. Sommers's character traits in "A Pair of Silk Stockings"? 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "A Pair of Silk Stockings" Mrs. Sommers finds herself caught between being an unselfish mother and satisfying some of her own personal needs.

Here are some of her character traits:

  • unselfish - "Little" Mrs. Sommers thinks first of her children when she has the good fortune to acquire an extra fifteen dollars. She ponders for days upon what she will buy for her children and is excited at the "vision of her little brood looking fresh and dainty and new for once in their lives."
  • optimistic - She does not indulge in "morbid retrospection"; that is, she does not look back on the past when she had nice things for herself. Nor does she let the "gaunt monster" of the future trouble her too much.
  • frugal - Mrs. Sommers knows how to "elbow her way" at the bargain counters. And, she can hold on to an article until she is waited on in order to purchase it.
  • stressed - Mrs. Sommers cares for her children and forgets about eating until she is in the department store. Then, she feels faint.
  • impulsive - When her hand feels the silk stockings and the clerk asks if she wishes to see the hosiery, Mrs. Sommers allows herself to be seduced by the "serpentlike" gliding of the delightful silk through her hands.

She was not going through any acute mental process or reasoning...nor was she striving to explain to her satisfaction the motive of her action.

  • pleasure-seeking - After she purchases the silk stockings, Mrs. Sommers surrenders to the desire to indulge herself after so long, and she spends the money on new shoes and gloves. After these purchases she eats at a restaurant, splurging on a delicious meal; later, she attends a play.
  • wistful - As she waits for the cable car, Mrs. Sommers feels as though a dream has ended. She entertains "a poignant wish, a powerful longing that the cable car would never stop anywhere...."
  • reluctant  - Mrs. Sommers is not eager to return to her life of frugality again along with all her responsibilities.