In the beginning Mrs. Sommers is judicious, in the middle she becomes self-indulgent, and at the end she is wistful.
In the beginning of the story, Mrs. Sommers finds herself in possession of fifteen dollars, an unexpected amount of money. Judiciously, she decides that she will use the money for necessities: a dollar or so should be put into this or that for the children. "The needs of the present absorbed her every faculty."
When she does go to shop for the children, Mrs. Sommers is rather faint and exhausted; so, she decides to have some lunch while in a store. It is then that she feels the silk stockings her hands have found as she lowered them on the counter. Then she decides to ask for her size and feels the stockings, recalling how good the raw silk feels next to her flesh.
After buying the stockings, Mrs. Sommers steps into a ladies' waiting room and takes off her cotton socks and wears these new silk stockings. Then,
...she seemed for the time to be taking a rest from that laborious and fatiguing function [of thinking] and to have abandoned herself to some ...impulse that ...freed her of responsibility.
Mrs. Sommers goes to the shoe department and purchases new boots. From there, she buys gloves and eats select foods down the street from the store. After her meal, she enters a theater where she delights in watching a play.
The play was over, the music ceased, the crowd filed out. It was like a dream ended.
Having left the pretend world of the theater, Mrs. Sommers steps onto a cable car and heads home. As she does so, she wishes the car would never stop, but just keep going and going. She is wistful and, so being, reluctant to return to reality and its harsh demands.