Saturday, April 18, 2020

Sister Carrie Summary, Characters, Themes, Critical Essays


Sister Carrie, published in 1900, stands at the gateway of the new century. Dreiser based his first novel on the lifetime of his sister Emma. In 1883 she ran away to Toronto, Canada with a husband who had stolen money from his employer. The story as told by Dreiser, about Carrie Meeber who becomes the mistress of a travelling salesman , is unapologetically told and created a scandal with its moral transgressions. 

Sister Carrie Summary

The book was initially rejected by many publishers on the grounds that's was "immoral". Indeed, Harper Brothers, the primary publisher to ascertain the book, rejected it by saying it had been not, "sufficiently delicate to depict without offense to the reader the continued illicit relations of the heroine". Finally Doubleday and Company published the book so as to satisfy their contract, but Frank Doubleday refused to market the book. As a result, it sold but seven hundred copies and Dreiser received a reputation as a naturalist-barbarian.

Sister Carrie sold poorly but was redeemed by writers like Norris and William Dean Howells who saw the novel as a breakthrough in American realism. Charges of obscenity were brought against the novel, soon making Dreiser a incident for several young writers. However, the publication battles over Sister Carrie caused Dreiser to become depressed, such a lot in order that his brother sent him to a sanitarium for a brief while.

The struggles in getting Sister Carrie published weren't undertaken without foreknowledge. Dreiser allowed many cuts and changes to be made to the first manuscript by his wife Sara (known as "Jug") and his friend Arthur Henry. From the 1981 publication of the unedited manuscript by the University of Pennsylvania Press, it appears that Dreiser welcomed the edits and changes although later in life he described the publication of Sister Carrie together of suppression. Dreiser scholars are still torn over whether the extensive editing helped or harmed the first manuscript.


One of the most problems with the book has been the ending, where it seems that Carrie is rewarded for her illicit relationship. Dreiser wrote as a Realist, and believed that fiction shouldn't merely depict an idealized version of life for readers, but should show how people really felt and considered things. The scandal of the book is that Carrie is in a position to maneuver in with the salesperson and thereby improve her lot in life. Although Dreiser doesn't leave her happy at the top , he certainly doesn't punish her for her actions.
Caroline Meeber, referred to as Carrie, leaves her home at age eighteen and takes the train to Chicago. the person sitting behind her on the train, named Drouet, starts lecture her. Carrie soon becomes curious about him thanks to his fine clothing and manners. Upon arriving in Chicago she says goodbye to him, but not before she has given him her address.
sister carrie summary, sister carrie themes


Carrie meets her sister Minnie Hanson and moves into one among the rooms in Minnie's apartment. Mr. Hanson arrives home that night but doesn't pay an excessive amount of attention to her. Carrie soon realizes that the Hansons expect her to seek out employment and pay them rent. As far as they're concerned, she is supplemental income. After the weekend she enters the commercial a part of the town and starts trying to find employment . Being naturally timid, Carrie is scared of entering the factories and shops and posing for employment , the result being that she isn't hired that day. After several days of searching she finds employment during a shoe factory.

Carrie works hard at her job, but discovers that the salary is just too low for her to pay rent and buy clothes for the winter. She soon falls ill from the cold and takes several days to recover. Assuming that she has lost her new job, Carrie returns to the streets within the desperate hopes of finding new employment, but becomes frustrated when nothing is out there .

Almost able to go home , Carrie accidentally meets Drouet on the road . He kindly offers her a meal and takes her to a fine restaurant. After much insisting he convinces her to satisfy him again subsequent day and presses twenty dollars into her hand. Carrie is loath to require the cash and afraid that Minnie will determine where she got it, so rather than spending the cash she decides to return it to Drouet. She meets him again subsequent day and he takes her out shopping, buying her a whole wardrobe within the process.

Carrie is so elated by the way he treats her that she agrees to permit him to rent an apartment for her. She sneaks her things out of Minnie's house, leaving only a brief note behind, and flies . Things go well with Drouet for a short time .

Drouet then introduces Carrie to his friend Hurstwood, the manager of 1 of the highest bars within the city. Hurstwood is way more refined and stylish than Drouet, and shortly he comes over to play cards with Carrie and Drouet. He next offers to require them to stage . When Drouet is away, Hurstwood begins to prevent by the apartment and woo Carrie, finally getting her to kiss him while on a buggy ride. He falls head over heels in love together with her and starts to consider getting her to run away with him.

Drouet, unaware of what's happening between Carrie and Hurstwood, returns to Chicago for several weeks. he's asked to seek out a woman to perform in his Mason's lodge play and asks Carrie if she would roll in the hay . She agrees, and Hurstwood get together all the highest people within the city to observe her perform. Carrie puts on a shocking performance as a results of Drouet's support for her, but Hurstwood starts to become insanely jealous when he sees them together.

Hurstwood's family life falls apart rapidly as he has been neglecting his wife so as to ascertain Carrie. She finally realizes what's happening and demands that he give her money. Meanwhile, Drouet has also discovered that Carrie has been spending much more time with Hurstwood then he ever thought. Drouet angrily walks out on Carrie, and Hurstwood foolishly fights together with his wife, not realizing that his wife has the whole property in her name. She then files for divorce, hires a detective, and locks him out of the house.

Hurstwood goes to his workplace and spends his nights at an area hotel. One evening he's locking up the bar and discovers that the safe is unlocked. He pulls out over ten thousand dollars in cash and accidentally locks the safe before he can put the cash back. stupidly he takes the cash and rushes to Carrie's apartment. He tells her that Drouet has had an accident which they have to travel to the hospital. thereupon lie he gets her onto a train heading to Detroit and from there to Montreal. Carrie is upset and furious with him, but passively does nothing to resist.

From Montreal they head to ny City where Hurstwood rents an apartment for them. He has sent back most of the cash he stole while in Montreal so as to avoid prosecution, keeping only thirteen hundred so as to determine his own business. He soon finds a bar trying to find a business partner and buys a one-third stake for one thousand. Things are fine until the owner of the land that the bar is on decides to kick them out and build an office block . Hurstwood only has seven hundred dollars and struggles to seek out new employment.


He and Carrie are soon forced to maneuver into a smaller apartment. Failing to seek out work, Hurstwood slowly degenerates into idleness. He takes up some gambling and loses over 100 dollars in one night. Carrie loses interest in him as an individual and starts considering her other alternatives. Things get progressively worse until Hurstwood doesn't even leave the apartment anymore, preferring to take a seat around in his old clothes.

When Hurstwood is nearly out of cash , Carrie decides that she is going to need to get employment to support them. After a couple of days she is given a spot within the chorus of a Broadway show. Her salary is only enough for them to measure on, but Hurstwood scrapes by. She is soon promoted to steer the chorus and later to a good better paying dancing position. Carrie refuses to inform Hurstwood about her success because she need the additional money to get clothes for herself.

Hurstwood takes one last job when the streetcar workers continue strike. He applies for an edge and becomes a scab, a person who works when everyone else is striking. However, an angry mob soon manages to prevent his car and after being shot at he decides to offer up and go home . Carrie luckily is given a speaking part at some point and at that time decides to go away Hurstwood so as to measure with an actress friend of hers. She moves out while he's taking a walk.


The rest of the novel traces Carrie's rise and Hurstwood's fall. He soon loses the apartment and is forced to become a homeless beggar who stays in cheap hotels within the Bowery a part of town. Carrie meanwhile is given a silent role, but plays it so well that she becomes an overnight star and signs a contract paying her 100 and fifty dollars every week , an exorbitant sum for her.

Drouet moves to ny and tries to reestablish his relationship with Carrie, but she brushes him off. Hurstwood, in despair, commits suicide by gassing himself with methane in his bedroom one night. His wife and daughter take a voyage to Rome with a wealthy young man that his daughter has married while his body is carted away on a ship. Carrie meanwhile has become unhappy together with her state within the world, wishing that she could perform drama instead of comedy.


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