The Character of Mrs. Sommers in Chopin’s A Pair of Silk Stockings
The attempt to escaping reality proves to be a timeless act in "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin. The wishful Mrs. Sommers surprisingly finds herself with a sum of money unusually large for her circumstances and in her relishing and spending it reveals herself to be truly a woman of good intentions but who is weak for the intensity of the moment. Chopin has developed a character in Mrs. Sommers who plays out the fantasy of all people, rich or poor: to be someone they are not and for a day live someone else's life. Mrs. Sommers demonstrates characteristics of a prized knight such as chivalry and frugality yet confirms her mere humanity by indulging herself in the world's material pleasures.
Mrs. Sommers is a diligent homemaker who is chivalrous to her children's needs. When coming upon this grand sum of money and contemplating how to use the funds, her first thoughts are of her children's needs and not her own. Her mind wonders not to ways she may spoil herself but rather to ways in which she could improve her children's belongings creating for them a better life than for herself. "The vision of her little brood looking fresh and dainty and new for once in their lives excited her" (194). Chopin brings Mrs. Sommers pure intentions into clear view and with this snippet of information about her lets the reader realize that Mrs. Sommers has her priorities in line and bears a humble heart. Also in telling of Mrs. Sommers desires for her children, Chopin makes known of this mother's hard working attitude toward her position in life. As Mrs. Sommers considers the new apparel she may buy her family, she thinks over the duties that fill her daily life and how being benevolent toward her children would increase the amount of time she would have available to work on other projects for them. As her life was, she had no free time to spend with them because "the needs of the present absorbed her very faculty"(194). She even forgets to eat because of her preoccupation with taking care of her children! So, in her mind, the act of purchasing nice clothes for her children benefited her almost more than them. Mrs. Sommers indeed is a chivalrous woman toward her household.
In today's society the quality of being frugal may be looked upon not as an asset but as a drawback to a person's personality, but Mrs. Sommers shows frugality to be a beaming attribute. Her way of being conservative in her spending not only tells that she has a well developed sense of economy but also that she understands her circumstance is not one which she can freely purchase as she pleases. In relishing the thought of spending such a sum of money, as she has now been given the opportunity, Mrs. Sommers does not rush out to splurge her new found wealth as so many people have been known to do. Instead she attempts to spread it out making it work in the most sufficient way...