In the short story A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin, we see a great example of realism in the daily life of an average woman after the civil war. Mrs. Sommers lived her early life with a decent amount of luxury, but after getting married and having several kids, she has become quite cautious with her money. She is known to make her careful calculations and bargain her way to a better price. This can be considered foreshadowing for the experience to come, as Mrs.
Sommers loses herself to the greed and desire to have a life filled with opulence and pleasure once again.
Due to her financial standing, Mrs. Sommers is very frugal and definitely knows the value of bargaining. She is also known for her unselfishness towards her children They’re on the top of her priority list, and wants to give them the very best. Just like any normal mother during that time period. When fate decides to set the 15 dollars in front of the caring mom, she immediately decides to spend it on her beloved children.
She lays awake during the night and comes up with a specific plan for what she would use the money for; with everyone gaining from it. What a clever plan! This far into the story, it’s very realistic and plausible for a mother to be this caring and loving towards her family, especially during this time period.
The next day however, she makes a couple mistakes even before she starts shopping. First, she is “faint and tired”. Two things result from this. Firstly, she sits down on a stool, resulting in her hand brushing against the silk stockings. Secondly, because of her fatigue, she is more likely to not have the energy to think properly or have the gumption to bargain like she usually does. Her second mistake was to go shopping on an empty stomach. This will come back to haunt her later, and aid in her frivolous spending.
As Mrs. Sommers sits down on the stool and brushes against the silk stockings, she gives in to their “siren call”, and breaks down and purchases them. But it gets worse, she then goes to the shoe department and tried to find some matching shoes for her newly found stockings. She buys a very stylish pair of boots, but they too cost a little more than your standard foot covering. She then continues to buy a pair of gloves and a couple magazines; completing her breakdown of personal responsibility and self control in the clothing department. She then continues on to a cute little restaurant, and continues to splurge there, because of course, she hadn’t eaten before leaving home. She then gets in a cable car, and heads for home, wishing that it would continue on forever, never taking a stop.
This whole encounter is a realistic view on how those who are not used to having riches, or those who used to have riches, and wish to return to their old life, are apt to become irresponsible with the money to which they have been blessed. It can certainly be easy to lose oneself to the worldly pleasures, especially if they aren’t thinking clearly due to fatigue or hunger. Especially during this time period, the people lived very frugally, since they didn’t have a high income, and this could be very grinding on those who are used to living in high opulence. It’s so important to remember that with great wealth comes great responsibility. And this is very apparent in A Pair of Silk Stockings.