A Pair of Silk Stockings
Review of Three Short Stories by Kate Chopin
The first thing that strikes me after reading Kate Chopins three stories is that she is a realist. Her stories are fictional works but they represent the stark realities of life. She does not dramatize or make her characters look heroic but just portrays them as everyday, common characters. Marriage and motherhood seem to be the important theme in these stories. After reading through Kate Chopins introduction and these stories, I can feel that Kate Chopin was trying to find her identity with her stories. I also agree that her writing is very unconventional and deals with the issues that women were suffering through in her time. During Kate Chopins era, women were expected to do everything, like taking care of household work and the family while they did not get many chances to follow their own dreams or passions. Through the characters in these stories, I think that she wants to defy the conventional role of women in society during that period. All her women characters are shown to be strong willed and deep inside wanting to be independent and free.
All the three stories are about regret in one way or another. In The story of an Hour, the regret is on part of Mrs. Mallard that while Mr. Mallard was alive, she did not have her own free will. In Regret, Mamzelle Aurelie has the regret of not having children and in A Pair of Silk Stockings, Mrs. Sommers, deep in her heart and for some time, regrets the fact that she cannot live her life freely and with gaiety and without any worries or responsibilities like before she was married.
Kate Chopins The Story of an Hour revolves around Mrs. Mallards character. Mrs. Mallard is a young, married woman who suffers from heart trouble and thats why her sister and her husbands friend feel that they have to break the news of her husbands death to her as gently as possible. The story details what is going on in her head after she receives the news. The setting of the story is Mrs. Mallards room where most of her thoughts come to her. After finding out that her husband has been killed in railroad disaster, she first starts crying but then goes into her room and sits calmly: There stood, facing an open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. The word comfortable and then her observance of beautiful things around her seemed strange to me but then I realized where the author was going. She was building drama for the controversial thoughts that were coming in Mrs. Mallards head. On one hand, she was sad on hearing about her husbands death, while on the other, she felt that finally she could live her life as she pleased. Kate has developed the character of Mrs. Mallard by giving some physical description of the character and by revealing the characters thoughts. Mrs. Mallard has a round character, while, Josephine and Richard have flat characters. The climax of the story is ironic in that Mrs. Mallards heart cannot bear the thought of her not being free after seeing her husband alive and she is the one who dies.
In Regret, Kate Chopin has portrayed Mamzelle Aurelie to be an extremely independent woman, who has never been in love, who is very determined, has her own farm and runs it as well as any man. Kate Chopin contrasts Mamzelle Aurelies solitary and independent life to the more ordinary situation of Oldie, her neighbor, who has four children and has to tailor her life to adjust to her husband and her children. Mamzelle Aurelie has to care for the four children for a few days. Initially I find her behavior towards the children as if they are things rather than being small kids. She has never been with children and finds it a struggle to cope with their various habits. But the presence of children finally has an impact on Mamzelle Aurelie. She is compelled to unearth white aprons that she had not worn for years and to take down the sewing basket which she seldom used. She also starts getting accustomed and attached to the habits of the children like Ti Nommes moist kisses. The going away of the children is symbolized as twilight in contrast to fine summer morning when they arrived. It symbolizes her emptiness when the children leave. Kate Chopin in this story has painted all the characters very vividly and I could feel the children doing what she has written.
A Pair of Silk Stockings is based in an average town. Mrs. Sommers is a middle aged mother of a handful of children and it is obvious that she is not doing too well financially after her husbands death. Kate gives hints that Mrs. Sommers has seen better times before throughout the story. She however manages her situation very well and lives very economically, always thinking about her children first. She happens to get fifteen dollars and that being a big sum she starts planning meticulously on how she is going to utilize that money for useful and important things. All her planning goes out the window however when she tries the pair of silk stockings. She goes on a spree of indulging herself with shoes and gloves to go with her stockings. Deep in her mind, I think that she comes to terms with her situation and thinks that she deserves some pampering. She also goes out to a fancy place to eat and to watch a play with rich women. At the end, I got a hint that she is regretting that this day is ending and her drab routine would resume.
I found all the three stories very interesting and Kate Chopin has a wonderful way of narrating her stories along with a penchant for unexpected and thought provoking endings.
Main Message of a Pair of Silk Stockings Story
Chopin and Pat Moras Attitudes
In A pair of silk stockings by Chopin, a mother temporarily escapes from the daily worries and fatigue of the lower class to enjoy luxuries only available to the affluent upon the chance possession of a large sum of money. Pat Moras Now and Then, America on the other hand, is a short poem depicting a fiery will to be free, different, and sane amid those who succumb to the confines of societys fashion, clothes, and behavior. Although both authors wrote about freedom, identity, and individuality, their attitudes toward these themes are very distinct.
A pair of silk stockings carries a rather gloomy mood. The main character belongs to the lower class, and as a mother of quite a few children she must constantly budget and calculate where the money is spent. She, Mrs. Sommers, is so consumed by her familys needs that she often forgets to consider her own. Upon the possession of a large sum of money, Mrs. Sommers is at first judicious in planning where the sum should be spent; however, her pragmatism and sense are lost when she accidentally brushed against a silk stocking. Overwhelmed by a sudden urge to indulge, she bought the stockings, and then proceeded to buy dainty gloves, boots, magazines, and expensive appetizers in a dreamy state. It is as though the stress and weary from her daily life pent up finally broke through her reasoning capabilities. She bought one thing after another without really seeming to realize what she was doing. This escape provided Mrs. Sommers a taste of better days she had once known, but it was only temporary. In the end, she could only wistfully wish that the day would never end and the dream would never shatter. The author uses images of Mrs. Sommers preposterous and unreasonable cheap gloves to the beautiful, delicate gloves she bought as a way to contrast the lives of the poor and wealthy. While Mrs. Sommers physically fit in with the high class after buying expensive clothes, she could never really be a part of that society. Mrs. Sommers represented the yearning for freedom and individuality along with a sort of hopelessness. She could attain a short reprieve from her life, burden, and responsibilities, but she could never be really freed.
Now and Then, America is the complete opposite of Chopins short story. Pat Mora uses lively language and images to portray a sense of defiance and audacity. She writes about how she refuses to rot through life in suits and bows that refined women are supposed to wear. Rather, she wishes to be wild and carefree, to wear her hair down and risk her individuality. It is poem full of passion and energy. By using images of limp, plastic roses and to green flesh cactuses, she contrasts what society accepts and confines in a persons individualism to what she loves with passion. The poem is hopeful and happy, the antithesis of Chopins short story.
Mrs. Sommers was able to escape from her normal life, but it was only a short fling. Her short freedom paints an accurate picture of reality and societys oppressing confines. Pat Moras poem is a far more innocent depiction of individual hopes for freedom and identity. Both authors wrote about escape and freedom, but Chopins attitude toward these themes is darkened by reality while Pat Moras attitude is lifted by hope and passion.
The Character of Mrs. Sommers as Depicted in Kate Chopin’s, a Pair of Silk Stockings
Characters in the stories we have read so far this semester have been faced with a multitude of problems, emotions and impulses to work through. It seems that from three stories the characters carry out very different actions, but they all have an underlying bond, selfishness and the desire to be something there not. It also seems that they are judged in the eyes of the narrator, as either succeeding or failing due to the way they carried themselves throughout the story.
In the short story, A Pair of Silk Stockings , by Kate Chopin, the main character, Mrs. Sommers, after finding fifteen dollars plans do things with it for her kids, and her family. However, this all changed after, buying a pair of expensive silk stockings for herself. She just totally forgets about all the nice things she was going to do with the money for her kids, for instance buy them new cloths for once in their lives. Once she put those silk stockings on, she received a small taste of the good life, and the greed and selfishness set in. She wanted more of it. So, she goes off and treats herself to things of a higher class, deep down knowing that she didn t belong where she was, for example, in the theater or going to a nice restaurant for lunch. At the end it seems that she has no recollection of her life before this day had begun. She was so wrapped up in assuming the identity of a wealthy person under false pretenses. The way that the narrator was telling the story, the main character Mrs. Sommers, both
Succeeds and fails at the same time. She succeeds in the sense of fooling people and also herself into believing that she is a member of the upper class, at the same time failing in her responsibilities to her family of being a responsible mother.
In the second story, we read by Kate Chopin, Regret , the main character, Mamzelle Aurelie, has a selfishness to her, that to me was a somewhat a good kind of selfishness, unlike Mrs. Sommers. She was a strong woman who never really had a man in her life, probably because she had her own ways of doing things and didn t want a man telling her how to live her life. I believe that this is the reason she turned down the proposal, of marriage, earlier on in her life. When faced with the unexpected task of caring for Odile s children, she unwillingly expected it. After spending the two weeks with the children she grew attached to them, and was greatly saddened by their departure. In realizing this she has herself a good cry, regretting never getting married, and having children of her own. After fifty years of never regretting her decision to not marry in her life she is suddenly haunted with the notion of what could have been, for her. It seems to me, that she succeeds in the eyes of the narrator, in realizing her mistake to not marry.
In the story The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are two characters faced with very different situations, and handle them very differently, but still possess the underlying theme of selfishness.
The first is Daisy Buchanan. She is the cousin of Nick. During her Youth, she fell in love with Jay Gatsby, but broke off her attachment with him after the Great War because he was poor. This is the prime example of her selfishness. Her selfishness drives her to deprive herself of love, with Gatsby, because I believe that she really loved him to some extent. She subsequently became the symbol of everything that Gatsby desired; yet she is little more than a symbol. Daisy is insubstantial and vapid, a careless woman who uses her frail demeanor as an excuse for immaturity. Later in the story she kills Myrtle Wilson, hitting her while driving Jay Gatsby s car. Gatsby takes the blame for this incident and is even killed, by George, Myrtle s husband, because he loves her so much, and her selfishness didn t let her confess to what she had done. I feel that she is a huge failure in the way the narrator explains her. She chooses the easy way out in almost everything she does.
The other selfish character in The Great Gatsby is Jordan Baker. She is a longtime friend of Daisy. Jordan baker is a Professional golfer, whose reputation has been tarnished by accusations of cheating in a tournament by kicking the ball to her advantage. This rite here is a good incite to her selfishness. She has no respect for the rules of the game and don t care who she hurts or steps on, on her way to the top. Her Cynical, icy demeanor draws the attention of Nick Carraway, who becomes momentarily infatuated with her. Yet she rejects him when she believes that he is as corrupt and decadent as she is. This shows that she can dish the selfishness out but can t take it. It is my belief the she, Jordan Baker is another big failure in the in the tone of the narrator. Not only for what she had done, but Nick Carraway is the narrator, and she rejected him.
All the characters I have spoken about have handled their problems in different ways, but all possess the underlying thesis of selfishness. Some have more sever cases of it than others. And in one case it is a good side of selfishness. Either way they learned something for the experiences that they faced.
Analysis of Kate Chopin’s Book, a Pair of Silk Stockings
A Pair Of Silk Stockings
Kate Chopin again writes another short story with a way of getting the attention of the reader in a short period of time. “A Pair of Silk Stockings” is based in early to mid 1900’s in a average town. Shops, a theater and such lies in the center of town. The author tells of a widowed mother that is not so well off, that discovers a sum of money and is taken away in her own shopping spree and perhaps her own dreams.
Mrs. Sommers is a middle aged timid mother of a handful of children, and is apparently not well to do anymore after her husband’s death; Not that she probably ever was, but more so than her luck would have it now. She is small framed with tattered old clothes, as if she hasn’t been able to purchase anything in quite awhile, nor would she knowing how much she puts her children’s needs in front of her own. She is a very thoughtful and caring mother who always puts the children’s needs ahead of her own.
Her children is the only thing that has consumed her mind in several years until the unexpected sum of cash shows up. Even before Mrs. Mallard starts upon her shopping spree, she prioritizes what to buy in her mind for her children, a dollar…(321). She knows exactly what to buy and how much to spend on each since she knows the value of a bargain.
During her spree, she is lost in her own world and purchases items for herself instead of her children. Her purchases included a new pair of silk stockings, fitted gloves, new boots and two high priced magazines. Next, she is drawn to a restaurant that she has only dreamily strolled by admiring everything about it, only to go inside for a quick bite, which is typically out of the question for her. After her snack, she attends a play with other “well to do” women who are only there to kill time, eat candy and display their gaudy attire. She now, stands waiting for a cable car hoping that her dream will never come to an end. Almost lost in the moment, she stares at the man sitting opposite her on the cable car hoping that this ride would never end. Quite possibly, she was thinking of how life would be with the stranger who sat across from her. She relived the years that have all but passed her.
Eventually, Mrs. Sommers’ trip does end but with no regrets. She has finally pampered herself and lived the life of the women that she has only admired to this point. There were no worries burdened upon her during this time, and she felt like a new woman again, shopping for herself and not thinking about everything else, as usual.
Character Analysis: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Babylon Revisited Vs. Kate Chopin’s a Pair of Silk Stockings
Money is the root of all evil. Though indulging in lavish new clothing and experiences can bring momentary joy, money often causes more problems than it solves. “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “A Pair of Silk Stockings” by Kate Chopin are two stories with two very different plots. However, closer examination of their main characters reveals that both Charlie Wales and Mrs. Sommers have had similar experiences with materialism. Choosing what to invest in is an entirely personal judgement, but Charlie and Mrs. Sommers both spend without much thought. Charlie Wales and Mrs. Sommers both go on indulgent adventures but experience them uniquely.
The sources of the two characters’ incomes are entirely different, although a few parallels can be made. These details seem minute, but have an impact on the behaviors of both Mr. Wales’ and Mrs. Sommers’ spending habits. The similarity lies in the fact that both Mrs. Sommers and Mr. Wales encounter a decent sum of money that permits them to spend wildly. Although it is never clear as to how, Mrs. Sommers “found herself the unexpected possessor of fifteen dollars” (1). Charlie Wales finds himself in a slightly different situation. Charlie made his money in the stock market boom. Either way, both characters gained wealth quickly, almost as if out of nowhere. Though fifteen dollars for Mrs. Sommers “seemed to her a very large sum of money” (Chopin 1), her treasure cannot stretch quite like Charlie’s does. She begins to contemplate practical ways to use the money, though she recognizes that she will only be able to purchase a few items. In Charlie’s case, he gets himself an income that extends for years. Charlie likely feels proud of his wealth, as though he has earned it. How they receive and the amounts of money that both Mrs. Sommers and Charlie Wales come across reflect in the ways that they choose to spend it later in the stories.
The lives of the stories’ main characters are very unique at the time they come across their fortunes. Chopin makes it apparent that Mrs. Sommers lives a fairly modest life during this period, as the author states that possessing money was unexpected for the main character. She wonders about the seemingly ordinary items she will purchase for her children with fifteen dollars. Her original plan focuses on benefitting her children. Even so, she dwells on the feeling of luxury and importance the money gives her. The American economy in Mrs. Sommers’ time was not thriving. On the other hand, Charlie’s life in “Babylon Revisited” was in Paris, following a huge economic boom. The city was lush with parties, liquor, and energy stemming from the excitement of the booming stock market. In “A Pair of Silk Stockings,” the time and place seem to be entirely different, as even Mrs. Sommers’ neighbors reflect on “better days.” Mrs. Sommers refuses to spend time dwelling on how comfortable and lovely her life used to be. She “indulged in no such morbid retrospection” (1). She has apparently adapted and accepted this new frugal lifestyle, catering to her children before herself. Charlie Wales also has a child at the peak of his wealth and spending. However, his focus seems to be opposite Mrs. Sommers’, as he devotes his time to focusing on himself rather than his daughter. The time periods and settings from “A Pair of Silk Stockings” versus “Babylon Revisited” shape their characters differently.
Several factors influence Mr. Wales’ reckless lifestyle and foolish spending habits. His environment is the first: a big city, rich with nightlife, post-economic boom. Living lavishly was the norm, and it was expected. Charlie remembers, “thousand franc notes given to an orchestra for playing a single number,” and “champagne dinners and long luncheons that began at two and ended in a blurred and vague twilight” (286). The prosperous and wild Parisian culture quite obviously enthralled and persuaded Charlie Wales. Another object of influence on Charlie were the people he surrounded himself with. His acquaintances were wild, extravagant, and reckless. This is most apparently evident in the message his old friend Lorraine sends to him years later. She highlights some of their good old times: “that crazy spring… the night you and I stole the butcher’s tricycle, and the time we tried to call on the president” (293). Obviously Charlie’s friends were thrilled to be flagrant and childish, which caused Charlie to behave the same. When they were not indulging in juvenile activities, they spent time in nightclubs, bars, and crazy venues, eagerly blowing through cash all the while. Lorraine’s letter continues with, “[let’s] get together some time… I’ve got a vile hang-over for the moment, but will be feeling better this afternoon” (293). Alcohol had additional influence over Charlie, as it took authority of his life completely. Mr. Wales was fueled by alcohol, which encouraged him to spend large amounts of money at bars and clubs and restaurants. Charlie’s alcoholism proved to be one of his greatest downfalls- it took away from his parenting Honoria and caused him to spend money carelessly on parties and the expenses that come with them.
Like Mr. Wales, Mrs. Sommers is also persuaded to spend money, though perhaps less directly and aggressively. Although she seems to be focusing on the present rather than reminiscing the past or dreading the future, Mrs. Sommers does have thoughts of the days when she had “been accustomed to other pleasant things” (4). Knowing and remembering the joy that expensive items and experiences bring might have allowed Mrs. Sommers to justify her actions. She needed some escape from her repetitive, average life, and found some happiness in splurging on herself rather than on others. This thought in the back of her mind seems to power her: “she was very hungry. Another time she would have stilled the cravings… but the impulse that was guiding her would not suffer her to entertain any such thought” (4). Her hunger might not only be physical hunger for food but also the hunger or desire for an extravagant life, or even just a more elevated one than hers at home. She is usually forced to resist “cravings” or temptations to buy nice items, simply because she cannot afford them. Now, however, she is ignoring her typical routine and curbing her hunger by dining in a nice restaurant and buying expensive clothing. Unlike Mr. Wales, most of Mrs. Sommers’ consumerism stems from herself and her desires. Even so, Mrs. Sommers may also be swayed by advertising. Stores and companies attempt to attract customers such as Mrs. Sommers. She notices, “there were books and magazines piled up in the window” (4), and, “[the] next temptation presented itself in the shape of a matinee poster” (5). Additionally, the stockings Mrs. Sommers purchases are placed in perfect position atop the counter to encourage customers to feel their softness and quality. Store owners know how to attract profit in the subtlest ways, and Mrs. Sommers becomes victim of this magnet. In a sense, both Mrs. Sommers and Mr. Wales are encouraged to spend due to their enticing environments.
Charlie and Mrs. Sommers seem to be entirely hypnotized during their periods of materialism. They are obsessed with having the best of the best and focus on nothing but luxury. Early in “A Pair of Silk Stockings,” Mrs. Sommers repeatedly mentions her children, but immediately after buying the stockings, her home life is placed in the back of her consciousness. Her mind races to think of what to buy and what to do next. Charlie Wales seems to flaunt his money, later reflecting, “he had never eaten at a really cheap restaurant in Paris” (284). Mrs. Sommers is also eager to display her wealth, as she carries her new magazines without wrapping and beams at the waiter who treats her like royalty. Both Mr. Wales and Mrs. Sommers find themselves in hypnotic-like trances, only able to focus on themselves the items they want. Both characters lose all sight of family, love, or any real emotions aside from desire. It is not until after their obsessions with materialism that Mr. Wales’ and Mrs. Sommers’ emotions contradict entirely. Mr. Wales feels a level of guilt and regret for his actions so deeply that it forces him to reevaluate his life. Talking to the barman in Paris several years after his reckless younger days, he says, “‘I did [lose a lot in the crash]… but I lost everything I wanted in the boom’” (296). Charlie has finally regained real human emotion. He feels love for his daughter and pain for his wife’s death. He acknowledges that the fast-paced, luxurious life that money had once given him had blinded him from what truly mattered. Mr. Wales gains control of his alcoholism, cutting back to one drink per day, and fights for custody of Honoria. Returning to Paris leaves him with a bad taste in his mouth, now that he can, at last, view the city with “clearer and more judicious eyes” (285). Mrs. Sommers, on the other hand, feels entirely different when the day is over. Her time of pretend was thrilling and brought her a nostalgic joy that she will once again be forced to forget. Repetition is used to emphasize the melancholy that comes with nightfall: “the play was over, the music ceased, the crowd filed out. It was like a dream ended” (5). “Over,” “ceased,” and “out” are all similar words used to highlight Mrs. Sommers’ extravagant day coming to a close. Her day is compared to a dream, perhaps for two reasons: first, she had been hypnotized during her acts of spending, and second, this might be the life she dreams of having. Unfortunately, it has ended. She feels no sorrow or regret for neglecting her children’s needs and spending the fifteen dollars on herself, despite her original plan. Charlie is eager for new beginnings and a brighter future, while Mrs. Sommers dreads returning home.
Both Mrs. Sommers and Mr. Wales’ decisions effect their lives. The mother spends all $15 on herself, neglecting the chance to buy new things for her children. Charlie’s rambunctious, disillusioned lifestyle leads to trust issues when he goes to claim custody of his daughter Honoria. Consumerism takes a toll on both characters, whether it is for better or for worse. Impulsiveness can be dangerous in the best ways.