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A Pair of Silk Stockings

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English 101
26 August 2015
Unfulfilled Desires

In "A Pair of Silk Stockings," Little Mrs. Sommers shows a slight dilemma that finally becomes a responsive expression of her ambition to return to a past that she can no longer have, reversing her hidden craving for the freedom and independence that she does not have while under the burdens of debt. She is a perfect example of how humans are seduced by material gain, "the life of luxury", and the savage way society judges things (or people). Society views people who live in the loop of luxury as "gods", they are above those who are not so wealthy. Anyone can fall casualty to this common societal problem, even honest "Little Mrs. Sommers". This is visible when she can feel the fifteen dollars in her porte-monnaie and she says "it gave her a feeling of interest such as she had not enjoyed for years". Mrs. Sommers does not simply aspire to wealth in the appearance of those who have never had money; instead, as Mrs. Sommers's neighbors note, she has in fact seen good days and possibly equates her youth with simple extravagance such as silk stockings and kid gloves.
The second element of Mrs. Sommers's ambition for her desire purchases relates to her need to allege personal autonomy. As Chopin enacts at the beginning of the story, Mrs. Sommers has several kids to feed and clothe, and her first thoughts for spending her money come precisely from the need to skimp and save every piece of her money. Although fifteen dollars had a great deal of purchasing power in the 1890s, much more than it would have today, it was not a powerful amount of money for the long term. The omen that Mrs. Sommers cannot truly manage to spend it on luxury items offers that she is greatly cramped in her actions by the demands of minimum affluence to which she is now reduced. Thus, Mrs. Sommers's purchase of silk stockings, a plain symbol of relatively luxurious myriad, may be explained as her attempt to deny the limits characterizing her worldly position. At first, Kate Chopin portrays Mrs. Sommers as an honest little lady who believes in "family first". This is credible when Mrs. Sommers "walks about in a fanciful state" aiming what to buy and ends up with a huge plan to make her little descendants look "fresh and dainty". To those around her, Mrs. Sommers is this pure family lady. However, the minute she buys the silk stockings is the minute she becomes a different person.
All of a sudden everything she has in not good enough, she stares at her shopping bag as "shabby" and "old". Her package is "very small". At this point, she wants more. She begins to think without sense, and loses her logic of duty when she puts the stockings on in the ladies room. Mrs. Sommers is "not going through any intense mental process or reasoning with herself", she is "not thinking at all" at this point. Mrs. Sommers's sense is not working like it used to at the beginning. All of a sudden nothing is too costly, she eats the expensive restaurant, buys shoes, gloves, and magazines "such as she had become addicted to read in those days". These things give Mrs. Sommers a "feeling of affirmation, a sense of belonging to the well-dressed multitude". Now, she is one of those rich essential people, and everyone knows it, thanks to all the earthly things she has. This becomes clear when Chopin says "She was fastidious, and she was not too easily pleased".
If Mrs. Sommers's gluts are a argument of the powerlessness caused by her inadequacy of wealth, then the manner in which she ceases to temptation is arrogant because Chopin's narration suggests that her accord to make her purchases is not made absolutely by choice. Whereas she strongly plans to buy hats and clothes for her children, Chopin represents her as "not thinking at all" after putting on her stockings. The tone of the narration is abstracted and astral, with a simple description of Mrs. Sommers's actions and limited debate of her motivations. As a result, the protagonist seems to hold even less authority over her behavior when nourishing herself than when the lack of money is the decisive factor.
The willingness with which Mrs. Sommers gives in to appeal might seem at first peek to be a sign of buckling or exhaustion in the face of abolished consumerism. Certainly, Mrs. Sommers' lack of food and following fatigue provide the catalyst for her initial gain of the silk stockings. Chopin's narration, however, does not leave the effect of a woman who is weak and easily wobbled. Instead, Mrs. Sommers is not convicted and does not condemn herself for pampering herself and providing a day of acquittal from her difficult life. Even when she returns by cable car to her home, she shows no regret for her lack of economic control and shows only a wish to continue her borrowed life. It seems that her assertive motivation for giving in is not the stupid joy of shopping but, as in so many of Chopin's stories, a deeply held longing toward freedom, spoiled here by releasing herself, however briefly, from the bonds of corresponding poverty.
Although the end of "A Pair of Silk Stockings" does not end with Mrs. Sommers in a point that is somewhat bad than that in which she inaugurated the story, it still delivers an element of catastrophe and loss. Mrs. Sommers is lost with all the other "garish" women, when, "like a dream ended", the play ends, and Mrs. Sommers is pounded by reality. The phenomenon that she is not one of them at heart, she is solely Little Mrs. Sommers. To the man on the cable car Mrs. Sommers looks like "another one of those rich women", when privately, there is a "powerful yearning, a poignant wish to go on and on" that goes undiscovered by the average individual. Fifteen dollars has been enough to bring Mrs. Sommers back to her past and to give her a brief feeling of control, but it does not satisfy to change her basic position. Although the acquisitions made by Mrs. Sommers will continue with her until they wear out, almost all of the privilege that she enjoyed will perish once she leaves the cable car, and she will be left again with nothing but thoughts and displeased desires. When the man, defining the average individual, is looking at her, it becomes possible that because of material things, people can seem to be something (or someone) they are not. So, in conclusion, just because society views something as "the right way", or "the best kind", it does not mean that it is the right way or the best kind. Like Mrs. Sommers, humans will almost always pay for being admirer.

Works Cited
Chopin, Kate. “A Pair of Silk Stockings.” Literature for Composition: An Introduction to
Literature. Ed. Sylvan Barnet et al. 10th ed. Longman. Print.

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