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Theodore Dreiser?S “Sister Carrie” Essay, Research Paper

Theodore Dreiser?s Sister Carrie is a simple tale of a young, pretty eighteen year old girl Caroline Meeber also know as Carrie.

When Carrie got on the train from Columbia City to Chicago she had only few cheap items in her trunk and her sister?s address on

a piece of paper. Being only eighteen she was still “full of the illusions of ignorance and youth”(Dreiser, 7). She was both afraid of

the things to come and exited by the countless possibilities offered by one of the largest cities of the late 19th century ? Chicago.

As soon as Carrie arrives in Chicago various obstacles face her. She has no experience at working outside home, which makes

finding any work very difficult. She does not like the simple, and in her view, boring way of life her sister and brother in law live.

Being this young and curious woman she yearns for more than what is around her. She has no education, no wealth to fall on and

as we read the novel we also discover she has no morals. Even though at some point Dreiser claims that Carrie is “the victim of

the city?s hypnotic influence”(Dreiser, 79) it becomes clear that in fact she is not a helpless victim by any means ? she just simply

goes along with anything and anyone who comes along. Tired and disappointed with her early days at a low paying hard work

Carrie chooses to leave her sister ? the only real family she has in the city ? and goes off with a Drouet, a man she just recently

met on the train. Carrie knew nothing about Drouet except that he seemed to like her and appeared to have more money than she

could ever got her hands on. When she goes off with him there is no conflict within her, no regrets, no second thoughts. As soon

as an opportunity to leave her boring life arrived Carrie took it and never looked back. All she cared about was the fact that now

she no longer needed to work long hours for little pay. By becoming Drouet?s kept woman she no longer had to worry about

getting comfortable clothing, good meal and money. People knew her as Mrs. Drouet and she liked it. Through Drouet Carrie met

her next man ? Hurstwood, a manager at Fitzgerald and Moy?. Carrie flirted and spend time with him without giving it a second

thought. It did not bother her that Hurstwood was twice her age ? in fact he was old enough to be her father. She never stopped

to think that someone of his position, and in her eyes he was definitely much higher on a social scale than Drouet, might be

married, have a family, responsibilities and obligations to them as well as to others. To Carrie “Hurstwood seemed drag in the

direction of honor”(Dreiser, 128), but how would she know what honor was and what it meant? She had none ? otherwise she

would never leave her family to become a kept woman and soon after that a home wrecker. Hurstwood left his wife, children and

respectable job to carry on his affair with Carrie. He even stole from his longtime employers to be with Carrie. In return she

dumped him when he proved to be of no use to her in the quest for the better life. As Dreiser observed Carrie “wanted pleasure,

she wanted position, and yet she was confused as to what these things might be”(Dreiser, 139). Even years later when she

became a famous and popular New York actress she still did not possess what she desired. People admired her, she was paid

very well, and yet there was always something missing. She never got married ? not to Drouet, not to Hurstwood; she just used

them both to get ahead without even realizing that what she was doing was wrong and immoral. Instead she believed they did her

wrong. Therefore Carrie expressed no feelings of shame, regret, guilt or remorse for hurting Drouet and leading Hurstwood

towards his lonely death in a strange city among strangers. At the end of the novel as Carrie sits in her rocking chair, surrounded

by her beautiful gowns and expensive furniture there the sense that she is not happy and never could be. She is alone among many friend and

admirers. Although she changed her economic status by earning more and more, she could never change her social

standing. She was born poor, grew up without education and privileges of wealth and that could never be overlooked in the proper

society of the Victorian age. Carrie could never accomplish a position of a Victorian woman with all the trimmings implied: wealth, education,

family background and values.