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The social attitude of Dreiser is made evident through his decision to focus on the gritty realities of life in big cities in the 19th Century. Let us remember that this text is set during a huge growth in factory work that had the impact of creating an era of prosperity for many but extreme poverty for others. This was partly a result of industrialisation that brought technology and the need for more workers. The poor in America were often only able to find work in factories and faced monotonous, repetitive tasks, long hours, and very little salary. In addition, factory jobs were very dangerous, with the new machinery often resulting in injuries or even casualties and the dark and dirty conditions of many factories resulted in sickness and death among the workers. As the novel shows, women often were only able to work in factories because they were willing to do jobs that received a lesser salary than men.
This novel, therefore, by focusing on the realities of life during this period of American history, exposes the massive inequalities that lurked behind the pleasing facade of prosperity. By including such characters as Carrie and her family and the fate of Hurstwood, particularly how he spends his last days, Dreiser reveals his condemnation of a system that results in such blatant inequality.
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