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The short story “A Pair of Silk Stockings” is a story about a woman, Mrs. Sommers, who was very devoted to her family and for whom her children were of prior concern. Being very smart when spending money, for her life style did not let her be wasteful, one day she makes up her mind to spend money for herself alone and having done this she does not even regret it. This is a typical woman’s story which discloses each woman’s inner desire to at least once escape the reality and start doing what her heart tells her without being aware of the consequences.
One of the main problems raised in this story is the changes in people’s character under the negative influence of money. In “A Pair of Silk Stockings” Mrs. Sommers is first represented as a woman who is very attentive in spending her money. Even when she “found herself the unexpected possessor of fifteen dollars” (Kate Chopin, Sandra M. Gilbert, p. 262) she didn’t want to spend the money for nothing and started carefully making plans trying to figure out what the best way to spend it would be: “For a day or two she walked about apparently in a dreamy state, but really absorbed in speculation and calculation” (Kate Chopin, Sandra M. Gilbert, p. 262). Nevertheless, when she started shopping she didn’t manage to control her inner desire to spend those fifteen dollars for her own needs. She forgot about her children and at that moment she was driven by the only desire to possess silky stockings, the desire which she afterwards fulfilled. Having been caught in the net of dissipation she couldn’t resist the temptation of pleasing herself further as long as she had “money in her purse”. Under the influence of money Mrs. Sommers, like most of people, became self-centered and egoistic.
Another point is the loss of sense of proportion against the background of a deep feeling of dissatisfaction with her life. Being forced to think only about her children and nothing else, with “the needs of the present” which “absorbed her every faculty” (Kate Chopin, Sandra M. Gilbert, p. 263). Mrs. Sommers probably didn’t even remember when she last paid any attention to herself as a woman. It is evident that she didn’t even think of how unhappy as a woman she was. Her unhappiness and inner dissatisfaction with her life develop into greediness and desire to possess everything she didn’t have a chance to possess before. This feeling subsides when she buys things she dreamt to have and runs out of money.
It would be fair to mention that if Mrs. Sommers had a husband she would never do something like this. Even being in the same financial situation she would respect herself as a woman because she would think not only about the right ways of spending money every day but about being a woman and a caring wife for her husband as well. Moreover, even if she decided to spend money not for every day needs, she would probably spend it for the pleasure of both, hers and her husband’s, which would not turn her into an egocentric woman, even though she turned into such for one day only.
In conclusion, “Pair of Silk Stockings” shows that any woman, especially the one who experiences financial problems, has an inner desire to live a luxurious life and dreams to turn into somebody who she is not and will never be at least for one day in order to find out how it feels to be a woman who is allowed to do what she wants rather than what she has to.
Kate Chopin, Sandra M. Gilbert. The Awakening and Selected Stories. Penguin Classics, 2003.