A Pair of Silk Stockings

Mrs. Sommers Character Analysis

Mrs. Sommers, the protagonist and only major character in the story, is an impoverished, industrious young woman. Although her poor neighbors dwell on the fact that Mrs. Sommers was once richer and more fortunate (before her marriage to Mr. Sommers), she is no snob and is not afraid of hard work. In fact, she is so busy completing her daily household duties that she has no time at all “to devote to the past.” In the story’s opening, dutiful Mrs. Sommers is characterized solely by her identity as a mother and wife, but after gaining a small windfall of fifteen dollars, she begins to make decisions for herself. Escaping from her familial obligations for one afternoon, Chopin’s heroine is able to prioritize her own desires and to pursue her quest for personal fulfillment. Succumbing to the tempting delights of consumerism, Mrs. Sommers indulges in new clothing (including the eponymous pair of silk stockings), an extravagant lunch, and a trip to the theater, activities that give her a feeling of importance and belonging. While Mrs. Sommers’s shopping spree symbolizes a personal triumph over the patriarchal expectations that require her to exhaust herself in order to embody the characteristics of an ideal nineteenth-century woman, it also seems to reveal the futile nature of her rebellion. Mrs. Sommers has experienced a taste of freedom, happiness, and pleasure, but having spent the entirety of the fifteen dollars on herself, she must return home to the drudgery of her mundane domestic routine.

Mrs. Sommers Quotes in A Pair of Silk Stockings

The A Pair of Silk Stockings quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Sommers or refer to Mrs. Sommers . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women and Gender Roles Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Signet edition of A Pair of Silk Stockings published in 1976.
A Pair of Silk Stockings Quotes

It seemed to her a very large amount of money, and the way in which it stuffed and bulged her worn old porte-monnaie gave her a feeling of importance such as she had not enjoyed for years.

Related Characters: Mrs. Sommers
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:
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For a day or two she walked about apparently in a dreamy state, but really absorbed in speculation and calculation. She did not wish to act hastily, to do anything she might afterward regret.

Related Characters: Mrs. Sommers
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:
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The neighbors sometimes talked of certain “better days” that little Mrs. Sommers had known before she had ever thought of being Mrs. Sommers. She herself indulged in no such morbid retrospection. She had no time—no second of time to devote to the past.

Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:
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A vision of the future like some dim, gaunt monster sometimes appalled her, but luckily to-morrow never comes.

Related Characters: Mrs. Sommers , The Neighbors
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:
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She went on feeling the soft, sheeny luxurious things—with both hands now, holding them up to see them glisten, and to feel them glide serpent-like through her fingers.

Related Characters: Mrs. Sommers
Related Symbols: The Pair of Silk Stockings
Page Number: 263
Explanation and Analysis:
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She was not thinking at all. She seemed for the time to be taking a rest from that laborious and fatiguing function and to have abandoned herself to some mechanical impulse that directed her actions and freed her of responsibility.

Related Characters: Mrs. Sommers
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:
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Her foot and ankle looked very pretty. She could not realize that they belonged to her and were a part of herself.

Related Characters: Mrs. Sommers , The Clerk
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:
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She was hungry.

Related Characters: Mrs. Sommers
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:
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The play was over, the music ceased, the crowd filed out. It was like a dream ended.

Related Characters: Mrs. Sommers
Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:
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[…] a poignant wish, a powerful longing that the cable car would never stop anywhere, but go on and on with her forever.

Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mrs. Sommers Character Timeline in A Pair of Silk Stockings

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Sommers appears in A Pair of Silk Stockings. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Pair of Silk Stockings
Women and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Social Class and Belonging Theme Icon
For reasons not revealed, Mrs. Sommers finds herself in possession of fifteen dollars. For poor, “little Mrs. Sommers,” this seems like... (full context)
Women and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Mrs. Sommers is completely consumed by the question of how to spend her small windfall. “She did... (full context)
Women and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Social Class and Belonging Theme Icon
The neighbors like to gossip about Mrs. Sommers ’s past—back when she enjoyed “better days,” prior to getting married to Mr. Sommers. Mrs.... (full context)
Women and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Social Class and Belonging Theme Icon
Mrs. Sommers is usually a skillful and tenacious shopper, able to “elbow her way” through stores and... (full context)
Women and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Social Class and Belonging Theme Icon
As she braces herself to begin shopping, Mrs. Sommers accidentally brushes her hand against a pair of silk stockings. Although the stockings are on... (full context)
Women and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Instead of visiting the “bargain counter,” Mrs. Sommers promptly goes to the dressing room to put on her new silk stockings. As she... (full context)
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Subverting the Male Gaze in the Public Sphere Theme Icon
Stuffing her old stockings in her bag, Mrs. Sommers makes a beeline for the shoe department. The clerk there is surprised by the combination... (full context)
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Social Class and Belonging Theme Icon
Mrs. Sommers then thinks of how long it’s been since she’s purchased new gloves, and promptly visits... (full context)
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Social Class and Belonging Theme Icon
Having not eaten since her bout of faintness earlier in the day, Mrs. Sommers feels incredibly hungry all of a sudden. Under normal circumstances, she would usually ignore her... (full context)
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Social Class and Belonging Theme Icon
Once seated at her own table, Mrs. Sommers claims to “not want a profusion,” but nonetheless orders a fine feast. Following her oysters... (full context)
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Social Class and Belonging Theme Icon
Mrs. Sommers has enough money for one last splurge. She spots a poster advertising a matinee and,... (full context)
Women and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Consumerism and Escapism Theme Icon
Subverting the Male Gaze in the Public Sphere Theme Icon
As the play ends, Mrs. Sommers feels as if “a dream ended.” She files out of the theater and walks alone... (full context)