Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
While working as a freelance journalist, Theodore Dreiser wrote his first novel, Sister Carrie, which was accepted for publication by Frank Norris, the author of McTeague: A Story of San Francisco (1899) and an editor for Frank Doubleday, but Frank Doubleday objected to the novel. Bound to a contract, Doubleday printed, but did not distribute or advertise, one thousand copies; few sold, a fact that crushed Dreiser. The book was ahead of its time—readers were not ready for the realism and frank language that Dreiser championed.
Carrie Meeber, the main character, is a young woman from a small town in the Midwest who leaves her family to attempt to make her own way in Chicago. Her excitement at this prospect soon changes to sorrow when she realizes that the life she will lead working in a factory is not glamorous. In a state of despair, she accepts money from a traveling salesman, Drouet, and she moves to his apartment, where she lives in comfort without working. Later, she is tricked into leaving Chicago for New York with another man, Hurstwood, who is more successful than Drouet, but who soon fails. It is hard to read this novel and fully understand the objections that Frank Doubleday and other readers had. One must remind oneself that Carrie, according to the standards of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is a fallen woman. She lives with a man, Drouet, without first marrying him. If that were not scandalous enough,...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
When Carrie Meeber leaves her hometown in Wisconsin, she has nothing but a few dollars and a certain unspoiled beauty and charm. Young and inexperienced, she is going to Chicago to live with her sister and find work. While on the train, she meets Charles Drouet, a genial, flashy traveling salesman. Before the train pulls into the station, the two exchange addresses, and Drouet promises to call on Carrie at her sister’s house.
When she arrives at her sister’s home, Carrie discovers that her life there would be far from the happy, carefree existence of which she had dreamed. The Hansons are hardworking people, grim and penny-pinching; they allow themselves no pleasures and live a dull, conventional life. It is clear to Carrie that Drouet cannot possibly call there, not only because of the unattractive atmosphere but also because the Hansons are sure to object to him. She writes and tells him not to call, and that she will get in touch with him later.
Carrie goes job-hunting and finally finds work in a small shoe factory. Of her first wages, all but fifty cents goes to her sister and brother-in-law. When Carrie falls ill, she loses her job and again has to look for work. Day after day, she trudges the streets, without success. It seems as if she will have to go back to Wisconsin, and the Hansons encourage her to do so, since they do not want her if she cannot bring in money.
One day while looking for work, Carrie visits Drouet and...
(The entire section is 955 words.)
Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Although Carrie Meeber, the protagonist of Sister Carrie, may seem somewhat shallow in her preoccupation with clothing and popular entertainment, she has been called a seeker of beauty. Carrie has grown up in an impoverished rural district, probably knowing only the essentials of life. To her, luxuries such as fashionable clothes, theaters, and elegant restaurants are beautiful things.
At first, Carrie plans to acquire material beauty through her own efforts, working in Chicago. She soon learns, however, that her lack of training and experience qualifies her only for factory work, which does not pay well. Following a bout of flu, Carrie loses her job in a shoe factory (sick leave did not exist in 1889) and cannot find another position. During one of her futile job searches, she chances to encounter Charles Drouet, a traveling salesman whom she had met on the train to Chicago. As Carrie is rather passive and pliable by nature, Charles easily persuades her to postpone her job search, have dinner with him, and let him buy her some nice clothes. Before long, Carrie has moved into this man’s cozy apartment, enjoying material comforts she has never known, without having to scrabble for work.
When Carrie meets George Hurstwood, the manager of a prosperous saloon, however, she realizes that this man is superior to her present lover. Not only is Hurstwood more intelligent, but also his clothes are finer in quality—a clear indication that...
(The entire section is 905 words.)
Sister Carrie is the story of Carrie Meeber, a young woman who leaves her small hometown in Wisconsin and goes to Chicago to find work and live what she hopes will be a happy, carefree life. She's young and naive at the time she leaves home, and though she is initially seduced by the allure of the city, she quickly becomes disillusioned with the drab and monotonous life she sees looming ahead of her. Carrie follows her instincts and makes a series of decisions that she believes will help her to build a better life for herself and achieve success on her own. Though her wealth increases, she never achieves true happiness. Carrie moves from her sister's home and her own work in a shoe factory to become the mistress of a wealthy man, and then the wife of another wealthy man whom she believes can offer her a better life. Eventually she sets out on her own and becomes a successful actress. As readers come to understand Carrie's motivation and watch her decline into a world of immorality and artifice, Dreiser's work emerges as a critique of capitalism and the promise of an industrial society. Drawing on Darwinistic views, he paints a picture of the big city life as nothing more than a jungle and of a person's attempts to move forward in this society as nothing more than a simple and instinctual struggle for survival.
(The entire section is 237 words.)
Part 1 Summary
Sister Carrie opens in 1889 with eighteenyear- old Caroline Meeber on her way from her small hometown to the big city of Chicago. She is frightened to leave home, but determined to make her way in the city. An attractive, yet naive young woman, Carrie finds herself in the company of Charles Drouet, a “drummer,” or traveling salesman. Drouet, well dressed and flashy, engages Carrie in a long conversation. When they part at the train station, they agree to meet the following week in Chicago.
After Drouet leaves, Carrie, feeling alone and bereft in this big city, waits for her sister Minnie to meet her at the station. Carrie will stay with Minnie and her husband Sven Hanson, who live in a small, meagerly furnished apartment. They expect Carrie’s wages to help them make their rent payments. Carrie sits in their rocking chair sorting out her thoughts—a position of repose she will often repeat throughout the novel. Realizing how small the apartment is, Carrie then writes to Drouet telling him she cannot see him because there is no room for visitors.
Carrie finally finds a job but the wages are low and when she wants to go to the theatre or enjoy life in the city, her sister disapproves. Carrie’s job on the assembly line is dreadful and nearly all her wages go to her sister at the end of each week. Without enough money to buy warm clothes, when the cold weather comes she turns ill and loses her job. When Carrie recovers from her...
(The entire section is 576 words.)
Part 2 Summary
Carrie and Hurstwood marry illegally under the assumed name of Wheeler and move to New York City. Carrie soon comes to realize that she does not love Hurstwood, and has used him to escape her life in Chicago. Nonetheless, she stays and keeps house for Hurstwood, who buys an interest in a New York saloon. As the years pass, their routine becomes predictable and monotonous, and Carrie grows increasingly discontented with her shabby clothes and frugal lifestyle.
Mrs. Vance, an elegant and wealthy woman who befriends Carrie, begins to take her to the theatre and helps her pick out new clothes. Carrie then meets Mrs. Vance’s cousin, Bob Ames, who convinces her that wealth is not necessarily the means to all happiness. Carrie comes to see Ames as the ideal man.
Meanwhile, Hurstwood grows older and more depressed. He loses the lease on his business and spends his days in hotel lobbies, watching the rich and famous pass by him. This, and reading the morning and afternoon papers, comprise his entire routine. When money grows increasingly scarce the couple move into a cheaper apartment and Hurstwood gambles away the last of their cash.
Carrie then decides to find a job in the theatre. Under the name Carrie Madenda, she takes a job in a chorus line at the Casino theatre and is soon promoted and earning good money. Preferring to spend her time with theatre friends, Carrie increasingly stays away from the apartment and Hurstwood.
(The entire section is 532 words.)
Chapters 1-3 Summary
Eighteen-year-old Caroline Meeber (known as “Sister Carrie” among her family) leaves her parents’ home in Wisconsin for an extended stay (or permanent residence, should she find employment) at her sister’s home in Chicago. On the train, Carrie is approached by Charles H. Drouet, a “masher” (a well-dressed man who preys on lone women). He strikes up a conversation with Carrie, who is overwhelmed by the presence of such a worldly man. He knows some of the businessmen of her hometown who own a clothing establishment far above her own means. She tells him about herself and agrees to receive him at her sister’s home the following Monday. Drouet offers to take Carrie to her sister’s, but Carrie declines, not wanting to face her strait-laced sister in the presence of such a man. He promises to watch her from afar until she meets her sister. At the Chicago station, Carrie’s sister immediately meets her. As Carrie sees Drouet leave, she feels alone in the presence of her sister.
Minnie Hanson, Carrie’s sister, takes her to her small flat in a working-class neighborhood of Chicago. Minnie’s husband works at the stockyards, cleaning out the cattle cars. The Hansons have a small baby. Carrie is expected to get a job and pay a small rent as soon as possible. Hanson assures his young sister-in-law that jobs are easy to come by for young women, in either factories or shops. Minnie suggests that they take Carrie to see the city, starting at Lincoln Park. As Carrie sees the cheapness and narrowness of the Hanson home, she realizes she cannot receive Drouet there. She writes him a short note explaining this and telling him she will contact him later when she is better settled.
In the morning, Carrie awakens with plans to wander around the city and investigate potential job prospects. She is overwhelmed by the size of the business district, where people seem comfortably and gainfully employed. The city is growing with new residents. Carrie is nervous about entering a business and asking about employment. Eventually, she gets up enough courage to enter one building and inquire about a job. She is brusquely told that there is nothing. Carrie goes from business to business; each place tells her there is nothing available. One gentleman tells her she is looking in the wrong place. He suggests that she seek out department stores, but this also is a false lead. Carrie feels ashamed at her shabby appearance compared to that of...
(The entire section is 519 words.)
Chapters 4-5 Summary
Carrie thinks of all the things she can buy and do with her prospective wages. At dinner that evening, she describes all the places she saw while job hunting. As she and Minnie clean up, Carrie proposes going to the theater. When Minnie hesitates, Carrie offers to pay. Hanson disapproves of the idea. Afterward, as Carrie is downstairs looking out at the sights on the street below, Hanson worries that already she is wasting her money. Carrie can now see that her sister’s home will be narrow and confining in more ways than one. Over the weekend, she wanders the streets alone, enjoying the sights and her own independence.
On Monday morning, Carrie nervously gets ready for work. On her arrival, she is shown to her work place; she is to punch holes in shoe uppers. After a quick lesson, Carrie begins her workday. Although it is not physically demanding, it is tedious with its endless repetition. She tries hard not to slow down the work line, but she sometimes has trouble fastening the leather upper to the machine to punch it properly. The other girls sympathetically slow down a little so the work does not pile up. Carrie’s back and wrists ache with the constant work. At lunch, she distances herself from the others, finding them crude and low-class. She resists the attempts at flirtation from some of the male workers. At the end of the day, Carrie returns home, body aching from the unaccustomed labor.
Carrie wonders if Drouet will come to call that evening, but when he received her letter, Drouet dismissed Carrie Meeber from his mind. He has several places around town that he enjoys, most especially Fitzgerald and Moy’s, a saloon for the upper class of Chicago. The manager there is an especial friend of his, Mr. G. W. Hurstwood. On Monday evening, Drouet goes to Fitzgerald and Moy’s and is greeted by Hurstwood. The two men discuss common acquaintances and their fates. Hurstwood genuinely likes Drouet, even though he is only a traveling salesman. Drouet explains that he is going out of town again that Wednesday for a period of six weeks. Hurstwood points out a customer, Jules Wallace, who is a spiritualist. The two discuss the validity of such a belief, and they both dismiss it. Drouet explains that he is on his way to the theater. Hurstwood tells him to come back afterward because he has something he wants to show him. Drouet agrees and mentions meeting Carrie Meeber on the train; he says he needs to see her before he...
(The entire section is 434 words.)
Chapters 6-7 Summary
At home, Minnie and Hanson question Carrie about her new job. She explains that it is hard and that she does not like it. She expected sympathy and feels nonplussed when Hanson and Minnie disapprove of her refusal to accept her lot with good grace. This showcases for her the inadequacies of her new life. She must pay four dollars a week for room and board to her sister, which leaves just fifty cents for all her other expenses, including clothes. Winter is approaching, and she needs a hat and coat. She stands in the doorway, expecting that Mr. Drouet might come after all. She feels disappointed when he does not. Hanson comes downstairs. He says he is going for bread but in actuality is checking on what Carrie is doing; he disapproves when she goes out walking the streets by herself. She is frightened when a strange man approaches her.
Carrie continues to distance herself from her coworkers, especially the flirtatious young men. She sees them as “common” and without the imagination that she has. On some nights, she is too weary to walk home and spends precious money on the streetcars. When she buys an umbrella to ward off the rain, Minnie calls her foolish. Without a coat, Minnie catches cold and soon falls ill. She is unable to go to work for three days and thus loses her job. She wanders the streets for four days but finds nothing.
She runs into Mr. Drouet, who invites her to dine with him at a well-appointed restaurant. Carrie tells him of her life since her arrival in Chicago. Drouet tells her that she should not work at such a place as the shoe factory anyway. He invites her to go to the theater with him, but she dares not. She finally agrees to meet him the next day to go to a matinee. He presses money on her to buy some clothes. She is overwhelmed when she sees that he has given her twenty dollars.
Carrie fantasizes about the clothes she will buy with the money, but soon she realizes that she will not be able to explain to Hanson and Minnie where she got the money. She decides that she must give the money back to Drouet when she meets him the next day. Minnie tells Carrie that Hanson feels that, if she does not get a job soon, she must go back home. The next morning, Carrie wanders around the clothing stores but buys nothing. She meets Drouet as arranged and tries to give the money back. He refuses and takes her shopping instead. He tells her that he will rent her a furnished room where she can store...
(The entire section is 547 words.)
Chapters 8-9 Summary
In the morning, Minnie finds Carrie’s note. Hanson is cynical and indifferent. Minnie aches for the choice her sister has made. Carrie wakes up alone in her new flat. The following day, Drouet takes her to breakfast and to go shopping for more clothes. Over the next several days, he takes her sightseeing throughout Chicago. She sees the opera and dines in high-class restaurants. Occasionally, Carrie thinks of her old life and how far she has separated herself from it. One day, Carrie recognizes one of the shop girls from the shoe factory; she looks at Carrie with vague recognition. Carrie feels that a great distance has been created between her life now and the life of the shabby factory girl.
Carrie continues to feel some guilt, though she is described as having no “excellent home principles” on which her morality would have been based. If she had, she would have felt guiltier than she does at present. Drouet takes her home after a night on the town and waits expectantly on the front steps. At that moment, Minnie is having a bad dream. She sees Carrie standing beside a deep mine shaft. Carrie suggests to Minnie that they go in, but Minnie refuses. Carrie goes in alone, out of reach of her sister. The scene changes and the two sisters are beside deep waters, which are gradually overtaking them. Minnie sees Carrie sinking farther away until she disappears. She awakens when Hanson shakes her, telling her that she had been talking in her sleep.
Drouet meets Hurstwood when he returns to Fitzgerald and Moy’s. Drouet invites Hurstwood to come to his house some time. He tells him that he wants to introduce him to someone.
Hurstwood’s home life is uninspiring. His wife frequently must dismiss servants because of her difficulty in being pleased with their service. His daughter, Jessica, upon whom he used to lavish attention, is in high school and has become spoiled. She associates with a group of girls whose families are above hers socially, so she spends a lot on new dresses. Hurstwood’s son, George Jr., is twenty years old and involved in real estate. He contributes no money to the home but is vaguely assumed to be saving money to invest. Hurstwood’s relationship with his wife is one of distance. They do not communicate enough to argue. He contemplates being unfaithful but decides against it because of the possible trouble it may cause. An acquaintance invites him on a ten-day trip to Philadelphia....
(The entire section is 449 words.)
Chapters 10-11 Summary
Drouet rents a three-room flat in one of the better neighborhoods of Chicago. He and Carrie move in together; he provides the young woman with a lifestyle far beyond her past experiences. She has every physical comfort, but she is psychologically tormented by the moral price she has paid for it. She is at leisure, she has no need for employment, and yet she is not truly happy. When she is alone, as she frequently is when Drouet is on one of his many business trips, the voice inside her head haunts her.
Drouet tells Carrie that he has invited a friend to come home with him some evening. He describes Hurstwood and tells Carrie that he has told him she is his wife. Carrie asks why they cannot truly get married. Drouet replies that they will as soon as he finishes up some “little deal” of his. He promises to marry her as soon as he returns from a trip to Denver in January. Carrie is not especially bothered by this because she does not love Drouet. In fact, she is not sure what she thinks of him. When Hurstwood arrives, Carrie is immediately impressed with him. He is more suave than Drouet is, and he is more attentive to her. The trio decides to play euchre, with Hurstwood helping Carrie to learn the game. He manages to let Carrie win. Hurstwood tells Drouet that, when Drouet is out of town on business, he will be sure to keep Carrie company. Drouet thanks him and thinks nothing of, or cares nothing for, the possibilities.
Carrie fights loneliness in her apartment as a “kept” woman. She befriends her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Hale. Mr. Hale is the manager of a theater. Across the hall live a woman and her daughter, who is in Chicago to study music. Drouet comes home one evening to find that Carrie has been crying. He suggests that she stop and clearly has no idea of Carrie’s loneliness. Hurstwood wonders how Drouet attracted a woman so obviously above his worth. He sees Drouet dining with another woman. Drouet later gives him the story that she was an old acquaintance whom he could not shake. Hurstwood invites both Drouet and Carrie to go to the theater with him. Carrie protests that she is going to the Exposition with the woman and her daughter, but Drouet insists that she go with him. Carrie, Drouet, and Hurstwood go to the theater, where Hurstwood dominates the conversation. He thanks Carrie for saving him from a dreary evening.
(The entire section is 428 words.)
Chapters 12-13 Summary
Mrs. Hurstwood does not know about any moral indiscretions of her husband’s, but she does not put it past him. Hurstwood suspects her of suspecting him, but this does not bother him. One evening, he, Drouet, and Carrie go to the theater. Hurstwood’s son, George Jr., also goes, and he sees his father in the company of a woman. The next day, he confronts his father. Hurstwood smoothly explains that he was there with Mr. and Mrs. Drouet, who are business connections. Mrs. Hurstwood says she thought he had to work—she had requested that he go with her to the theater that very night. Hurstwood says that this was unavoidable and he afterward worked until two in the morning. For the next few days, Mrs. Hurstwood invites him to go out, but he always pleads that he is busy. She becomes irritated by his refusal to be seen with his wife socially.
Carrie goes driving with Mrs. Hale, the wife of the theater manager from upstairs. They ride along Shore Drive, an upscale neighborhood of Chicago. When she sees the luxurious homes, Carrie becomes dissatisfied with her life with Drouet. That evening, Hurstwood arrives; he supposedly is unaware that Drouet is out of town and Carrie is home alone. He mentions Shore Drive, and it becomes evident to him that Carrie is unhappy. When he confronts her with this, she confesses that it is true. He touches her hand in a familiar way but she pulls it back. He assures her that he meant nothing by it but they both know better. After he leaves, Carrie feels confused. Hurstwood feels confident that she likes him.
Hurstwood cannot stop thinking of Carrie. He has not slept with any woman except his wife, whatever she suspects. In evaluating his life, he realizes that he should not have married his wife because she does not interest him. Carrie feels unsure of her situation now. Hurstwood is so much more appealing than is Drouet, who fails to measure up when compared to this married man. On a day when she is going out for a walk, Hurstwood arrives and suggests that he accompany her. Soon he hires a carriage and they drive along the Boulevard, which is sparsely inhabited. He confesses to Carrie that he loves her and begs her to love him. She cannot speak, but Hurstwood continues imploring her. She finally kisses him, thus giving Hurstwood the answer he wanted.
(The entire section is 411 words.)
Chapters 14-15 Summary
Carrie returns home, completely in love. She agreed to meet Hurstwood in town. Mrs. Hale notices that Carrie has gone out with Hurstwood and is suspicious that Carrie, whom she thinks is married to Drouet, is going out with another man. The housemaid also takes notice. She has a preference for Drouet because of his attention to her, so she spreads her gossip to the cook. From there, Carrie’s relationship with Hurstwood becomes the topic of much conversation.
Hurstwood is enjoying his new life. He thinks only of the pleasure of it, not the responsibility. He does not intend for it to intrude on the rest of his life. He sees that Carrie takes their relationship more seriously than he does, but she resists consummating it, so he resolves not to push it—at least, not yet. They make arrangements to meet in secret later. At this time, Drouet returns from his business trip. Hurstwood sees him first. He tells Drouet that he visited Carrie to ease her loneliness but urges him to return home because his “wife” is anxious to see him. Hurstwood invites the Drouets to join him for a night at the theater the following Wednesday.
At home, Carrie seems distant to Drouet. He tells her of his success on the road and says he plans to ask for a raise. He says that when he finishes up his real estate deal, he will marry Carrie, but she does not believe it. She meets Hurstwood on Wednesday before they go to the theater. Drouet is talkative that evening, acting as if he were the host rather than Hurstwood. Afterward, a beggar approaches the trio. Drouet gives him a dime but the other two ignore the indigent man.
Hurstwood ignores his own family. His wife demands that he get season tickets to the races. Hurstwood resents being forced to provide entertainment for his family and receiving little gratitude in return. He sees his daughter as spoiled and his son as disrespectful.
He no longer feels comfortable visiting Carrie at her home, but he writes to her daily and sees her often. He asks her to go away with him. She resists, wanting the assurance of a marriage. Hurstwood has not taken this into consideration; he has no intention of divorcing his wife and facing the societal stigma this would bring. Carrie agrees, as long as they leave Chicago. Hurstwood concedes to her request but only promises that they will get married when they arrive at their destination. Carrie accepts this, though Hurstwood is vague about this...
(The entire section is 430 words.)
Chapters 16-17 Summary
Drouet belongs to a secret society in Chicago, but he has not been heavily involved in its activities. However, he begins to notice that the men who rise in their business professions take a leading part in their lodges. With this in mind, he pays a visit to his club and finds them in the midst of a fund-raising event: a play performed by amateurs connected with the lodge. Wanting to be connected in a more meaningful way, Drouet offers to find a young woman to fill one of the parts. He forgets all about his promise, however, until he sees a notice in the paper concerning the upcoming performance.
At home, he tries to convince Carrie to take the part. Carrie refuses, stating that she has neither talent nor experience in acting. She does not want to make a fool of herself, but Drouet insists until she finally agrees. At the club, Drouet gives her name as Carrie Madenda; he explains to Carrie that this will protect her in case she is embarrassed by her performance. Carrie accepts this, never suspecting that Drouet is not willing to identify her as his wife, since he is known to be a bachelor at the club. Carrie learns her lines and finds some enjoyment in preparing for her role as a young woman who, ironically, is preyed upon by two older criminals and finally drowns in the end. Drouet helps her rehearse and promises her that she will not fail to please the audience.
Carrie is overjoyed at the prospect of appearing in a play. She writes to Hurstwood, who ponders how he can go to see it, though he is a member of the lodge. He meets Drouet when the latter comes to the saloon. He tells him that he was sent two tickets to the performance and acts surprised when he learns that Carrie is to be a part of it. Drouet assures him that Carrie has some talent, so his evening will not be wasted. At the first rehearsal, Carrie alone of all the amateur performers shows any talent in the eyes of the director. He asks who she is and speaks encouragingly to her, asking her if she has ever acted before. She goes home and tells Drouet of her experience but he seems indifferent. She meets Hurstwood in the park and is pleased with his excitement for her. He tells her he is going to try to sneak into one of the rehearsals, and he tells her to try her best. Carrie’s world begins to shine.
(The entire section is 430 words.)
Chapters 18-19 Summary
Hurstwood goes to work and rounds up an impressive audience of the well-to-do for Carrie’s performance. He convinces a friend in the newspaper business to print a notice in the paper. Carrie has learned her lines well but is nervous about experiencing stage fright. Last-minute cast changes highlight Carrie’s abilities.
On the night of the performance, Drouet takes Carrie to the theater in a carriage sent by the lodge and then goes looking for some good cigars in the shops nearby. Carrie is overwhelmed at the lights and refinement of the theater. She dresses, hearing the voice of Mr. Quincel, the director, as he hustles the other cast members in their preparations. She thinks this would be delightful if it could last, if this small role could lead to a career as a great actress. The seats are filled with well-dressed and fashionable people. Hurstwood is pleased with the turnout. He explains to an acquaintance that his wife was unwell and could not attend. Members of the audience who have been pressured by Hurstwood to attend chafe him about the possibilities that this will be an amateur performance in the worst sense of the term.
As the performance begins, it is obvious that Hurstwood’s worst fears will be realized. The actors are emotionless as they merely go through the motions. Although the audience knows this is an amateur production, their good will begins to ebb away. When Carrie comes out, she is visibly nervous, even more than the other performers. After her scene, Drouet goes backstage to encourage her. He tries to calm her down and remind her of the fine performances she gave as they practiced at home. She goes out, a little more self-possessed. In the audience, Hurstwood feels for her. Each time Carrie returns from her scenes, Drouet encourages her to what he knows she is capable of. Each scene is an improvement, and Hurstwood joins them in the wings. Drouet has re-evaluated his feelings for Carrie; he realizes he is in love with her and plans to marry her after all. Hurstwood sees the intensity of Drouet’s feelings and becomes jealous. With her final scene, Carrie holds the audience in the palm of her hands. The applause is prolonged, as Drouet points out to her. Afterward, Hurstwood suggests that the three of them go out for a victory dinner. Carrie is once more enthralled with life on the stage, and her thoughts return to the possibility that she might have a career as an actress.
(The entire section is 423 words.)
Chapters 20-21 Summary
The next morning, Hurstwood still feels intensely jealous of Carrie’s relationship with Drouet. He would give anything if she would get rid of Drouet and accept him instead. At breakfast, he has no appetite. There is a new servant who has already shown herself inadequate. Mrs. Hurstwood berates her, and Hurstwood feels more irritated by her than ever. His wife asks him if he has decided when he will take his vacation. He tells her there is no rush and that he is very busy at the moment. Mrs. Hurstwood warns him not to put it off until the season is over. He points out to her that she will not want to leave until the races are over. Mrs. Hurstwood says she might because Jessica has decided there are not as many eligible men at the racetrack as she had counted on. This annoys Hurstwood, and he tells his wife that it was obviously a waste of money to get the season tickets she pressured him into getting. Offended, Mrs. Hurstwood tells him she refuses to argue with him. He replies that she never talks to him anymore. He tells her that he might be ready to go on vacation in not less than a month, if he goes at all. His wife says they might go without him. He accuses her of trying to boss him around but says it will not work. Mrs. Hurstwood leaves, and soon Mr. Hurstwood walks out the door. Mrs. Hurstwood had not anticipated such an argument, but Jessica had said that a group of boys were going up to Waukesha, Wisconsin, for the summer, and she wants to go as well. She is not sure why this led to such a massive feud. Mr. Hurstwood only wants to find some way to get rid of Drouet so he can have Carrie all to himself.
Drouet strikes up a flirtatious conversation with the chambermaid. She asks him where Hurstwood is lately, since he has not come to see Mrs. Drouet since Mr. Drouet came home. He learns that Hurstwood had come to see Carrie or gone out with her almost every evening while he was absent. Drouet feels upset and leaves, but soon he returns and questions the maid further. He vows to confront Carrie with this news.
The next morning, Carrie meets Hurstwood, who praises her highly for her performance. He begs her to make a decision and come away with him. Carrie wonders how much he really knows about the truth of her relationship with Drouet. She asks if they will get married soon. He promises that they will on Saturday, if that is not too soon for her. She agrees, and the two part.
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Chapters 22-23 Summary
Mrs. Hurstwood berates Jessica for not coming down to breakfast. Jessica says she is not hungry, but her mother tells her to show some consideration to the servants, who must wait to clean up. As she leaves, Mrs. Hurstwood meets Dr. Beale on her steps. He accuses her of ignoring him when he saw her out riding on Washington Boulevard. Mrs. Hurstwood is immediately suspicious but tells him that it must have been Jessica whom he saw.
Mrs. Hurstwood and Jessica attend the races the day after Carrie’s triumphant performance. Jessica is involved in conversation with the young men around her, so Mrs. Hurstwood is left to talk with her acquaintances. She learns that her husband was at the theater the previous evening and told his friends there that his wife did not feel well and could not come. She hears about the spectacular performance of one of the actresses and begins to draw the correct conclusions.
That evening, Mrs. Hurstwood is cold and distant to her husband, despite his efforts to start a normal conversation. She demands that he give her the money to go to Waukesha by the next morning. Hurstwood immediately acts defensively. He tells her she has no right to “demand” anything. She confronts him with the information she has learned about his activities. After an intense argument, he says she can go to Waukesha if she wants. She says she knows that, as soon as she is gone, he will be “trifling around” with someone else. He resents her accusations, and he becomes belligerent. She tells him that if he won’t talk to her, he can talk to a lawyer. Having had enough, Hurstwood walks out, telling his wife that he will have nothing more to do with her.
Carrie returns home, having second thoughts about her plans to elope with Hurstwood. That evening, Drouet wonders how he can confront Carrie with what he has learned about Hurstwood’s frequent visits during his absence. In the end, Drouet blurts it out. Carrie is horrified at his discovery, but she claims it is Drouet’s fault because he told Hurstwood to come to see Carrie and take her out while he was gone. Drouet warns her that she should not be seen with Hurstwood, who is a married man. Carrie is overwhelmed by this news and blames Drouet for not telling her. Drouet asks her how she can turn to another man after all he has done for her. Carrie asks him what he has done, and Drouet answers that he rescued her from poverty and a confining life at her...
(The entire section is 487 words.)
Chapters 24-25 Summary
After work, Hurstwood does not go home at all but takes a room at the Palmer House. He paces the floor, wondering what he should do now. If his wife takes the action she threatened, it would most likely lose him his job as well as his friends. He realizes that she has property in her name, which leaves him with very little. The only pleasing thing about this mess is his approaching escape with Carrie.
In the morning, Hurstwood goes to his office and looks through his mail, fearful of finding some letter from his wife or a lawyer. He finds nothing but does not feel great relief. He goes to the park to meet Carrie as they had arranged, but she does not appear. He wonders if his wife has contacted her, but he doubts that his wife knows Carrie’s name or address. The thought that Drouet may have been involved does not cross his mind. He returns to his office, but there is no message from Carrie. Soon a messenger boy arrives with a letter from Mrs. Hurstwood. She demands that he give her the money so she can carry out her plan. He may stay away if he wants, but he is to return a message with the boy. Hurstwood tells the messenger boy that there is no reply. Later, he receives another message, telling him that if he does not give his wife the money, she will go to his place of employment and tell the owners about this matter, and “other steps” will be taken. Cursing, Hurstwood takes a cab to his home to find it locked, and no one answers the door. He realizes that his wife will accept only the money but will not see him. Defeated, Hurstwood calls up the company messenger boy and gives him the money to take to Mrs. Hurstwood, with instructions to return it if she is not there. When he returns, he tells Hurstwood that the only reply from his wife is that it was high time.
Hurstwood wonders what has happened with Carrie. The next day is Saturday, when the two of them were going to go off together, but he hears nothing from her. On Sunday also he hears nothing from either his mistress or his wife. On Monday, he receives a letter from an attorney’s office. It states that Mrs. Hurstwood has engaged their services to determine what money and property are hers. Hurstwood is requested to arrange to meet with them as soon as possible. On Tuesday, Hurstwood decides to go to Carrie’s home but is nervous when he sees a man watching him. He goes back to his office and receives a letter from the attorneys stating that if he does not...
(The entire section is 496 words.)
Chapters 26-27 Summary
Carrie is unsure what to do now. She has only seven dollars and some change, and she knows she must find some sort of employment. The rent has been paid through the end of the month, and Drouet has taken most but not all of his clothing. She must find a way to earn money soon so she can move out. She does not consider Hurstwood an option; she is furious that he lied to her and was willing to “marry” her while he was still married.
On Saturday, Carrie wanders through the business section, although most of the shops are closing down by afternoon. She uses this as an excuse to avoid going in to inquire about work. On Monday, she wanders outside of theaters, thinking about asking for some role, but she cannot bring up the courage. She goes to the post office and finds a letter from Hurstwood. He feels hurt that she did not meet him. She writes a reply in which she castigates him for his deception and tells him she does not want to see him again. On Tuesday, she enters one of the theaters and asks about starting a career on the stage. The manager, who finds her attractive and naïve, suggests that she start out as a chorus girl. He tells her to come back later and he might have something for her. Carrie continues to look at other theaters and businesses but finds nothing.
When she returns home, she sees that Drouet has been there to retrieve some of his belongings. Drouet had arrived, hoping to find her there. He is hurt and disappointed to find her gone, still feeling that she has not done right by him.
Hurstwood, on returning from his walk after receiving the ultimatum from his wife’s attorneys, finds the letter from Carrie waiting for him. Despite its blunt rejection of him, he is glad Carrie wrote to him at all and sees it as a sign that she still cares for him. When he goes downstairs, he sees Drouet check into the hotel. He wonders what this means. Later, he asks at the desk if Mr. Drouet is in and learns he is not. He goes to Drouet’s flat to find him absent and “Mrs. Drouet” at the theater. The maid does not like Hurstwood, so she invents information about where he can find Mrs. Drouet, but Hurstwood does not go there. He goes back to his workplace and visits with the clients.
That night, Hurstwood finds that the safe has been left open. Ten thousand dollars are in it. After some deep moral deliberation, Hurstwood takes the money and goes to the train station. He gets ticket for a late...
(The entire section is 505 words.)
Chapters 28-29 Summary
In answer to Carrie’s questions, Hurstwood assures her that Drouet is not seriously injured. He is on the South Side of town, he tells her, and so they must take the train. Carrie can get no more information out of him, though she thinks it is strange that they must go to the depot to take a train within the city. As the train leaves, Hurstwood asks himself why he did this. He has stolen a large sum of money, and now he has kidnapped a young woman. He continues to give Carrie vague answers to her questions, and she soon becomes suspicious. He tells her that they are not going to see Drouet, but he is taking her to another city. She immediately tells him to let her go and that she does not want anything to do with him. He explains that he cannot live without her and must leave the country. He begs her to go with him to Montreal and promises that he will not touch her. After that, she may go anywhere she wants, even to New York, if that is what she chooses. She refuses to go along with his plan but his constant pressure soon breaks her down. After making sure that he will let her go back to Chicago if she wants, she acquiesces. Hurstwood buys tickets to Montreal, and the couple settles down for the remainder of the trip, expecting to reach their destination by morning.
When they reach Montreal, Hurstwood and Carrie check into a hotel under an assumed named as husband and wife. Hurstwood tells Carrie that he will marry her that day and suggests that she wash up while he goes out for a shave. In the lobby, he sees someone he knows from Chicago. This presents a complication, and he avoids giving too much information to the man. He also notices a man whom he knows is most likely a detective.
He takes Carrie out for breakfast at a restaurant. When they return to the hotel, the detective comes to the room and asks Hurstwood if he intends to return the money; he says Hurstwood will not be able to leave Canada now without being arrested. Hurstwood says he will send a letter to Mr. Moy and let him know. He decides that it would better to return the money. He writes the letter to Mr. Moy, hinting about the possibility of being rehired. Mr. Moy replies that he will not prosecute Hurstwood if the money is returned; he is vague about giving Hurstwood back his position. Hurstwood sends back $9,500 and keeps the rest for himself. He and Carrie go to New York, which does not impress Carrie at all.
(The entire section is 454 words.)
Chapters 30-31 Summary
Hurstwood and Carrie, now living under the names of Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Wheeler, find a flat in New York. Hurstwood worries about living on the money he kept back from the amount he stole from his former employers. He looks around for a job for several days with no success; he learns that Tammany Hall controls much of the business in New York. At last he finds a saloon in which he can invest money to own thirty percent of the business. He turns over a thousand dollars and begins work. He had hoped to earn at least a hundred and fifty dollars a month, but he soon realizes that he will be lucky to get a hundred, at least in the beginning. He bought furniture on an installment plan and asks Carrie to wait before buying any new clothes. Carrie has never thought of Hurstwood’s having to economize, but she readily agrees. Hurstwood soon finds that learning to live with a very young wife is not what he has been used to. He meets an acquaintance on the street and feels terrified of being discovered, even though he no longer fears being arrested. The acquaintance greets him lukewarmly but promises to come and visit Hurstwood at his home. As he leaves, Hurstwood realizes that the man did not ask his address, which means he has no intention of visiting.
Carrie soon overcomes her disdain for New York and begins to enjoy her new life. Although their flat is small, Carrie is pleased with the furnishings. She devotes herself to domestic pursuits, always making sure that the place is presentable and the meals are pleasing when Hurstwood comes home. But soon Hurstwood begins to stay away, pleading business at work. Carrie frets, having prepared a wonderful dinner for him. Hurstwood finds more and more excuses to stay at work.
In their second year in New York, Carrie notices that a new couple has moved in next door. She learns that their name is Vance and finds a way to strike up an acquaintance. She notices that the Vances’ flat is more luxurious than her own. She also notices that Hurstwood flatters Mrs. Vance as he used to flatter her but does not anymore. Mrs. Vance proposes that she and Carrie go to the matinee, walking along Broadway. Carrie sees that the wealthy and fashionable walk along Broadway to see and to be seen. She appreciates the admiring glances she receives, but she is also very conscious that she is not as well dressed as Mrs. Vance is. This is something she intends to rectify.
(The entire section is 437 words.)
Chapters 32-33 Summary
As Carrie attends the play, she remembers her desire to go on the stage professionally. The lifestyle she sees portrayed on stage heightens her desire for the finer things, which she does not have with Hurstwood. She feels increasingly dissatisfied with her lot in life and becomes moody on her return home. When Hurstwood comes in, he senses her mood and asks her what the matter is. On learning that she had attended the matinee, he states that he planned on taking her that evening, if she wants to see it again. She says she does not, but during dinner she changes her mind.
About a month later, the Vances invite Carrie for a night out to the theater and dinner at Sherry’s, an upper-class restaurant in the heart of the city. She agrees because Hurstwood once again will not be home until late. Going along with the Vances is Bob Ames, a young man from Indiana who is in New York on business. The Vances are showing him around in the week that he is in the city. He strikes Carrie as very intelligent. As they ride down Fifth Avenue, Carrie is once again overwhelmed by the wealth on display. At Sherry’s she is impressed with the luxury of the table settings and the over-priced food on the menu. Mr. Vance is in his element, however, as is Mrs. Vance. Ames comments to Carrie that he could never be wealthy because he thinks paying this much money for food is ridiculous. This goes in variance with what Carrie had been thinking, but she listens to Ames; he strikes her as knowledgeable in a sincere way. He is not impressed with the life of the wealthy. Carrie has the feeling that, instead of being an out-of-town rube, he is in fact above such displays. She is disappointed to learn that he is not riding back with them after the show. When she returns home, she finds Hurstwood in bed. She sits in the dining room, completely dissatisfied with her life after meeting Ames.
Ames leaves New York without seeing Carrie again, and slowly her attraction to him fades away. Hurstwood, in the meantime, slides into gloom. His business is not bringing in the money he had hoped it would, and Carrie is demanding more money for clothing. Carrie is upset when the Vances announce that they are moving downtown. Hurstwood thinks about leaving Shaughnessy’s saloon and finding something else. He tells Carrie that, in order to raise the money for a new investment, they will move to a smaller flat and economize for a year. This strikes Carrie as moving toward...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
Chapters 34-35 Summary
Carrie evaluates her life as inexorably sliding into poverty. She thinks more of Ames’s ideas that wealth and material positions are not everything. Hurstwood takes parts of days off to look for opportunities, but he finds nothing. He reads in the papers that it is expected that 80,000 people will be unemployed this winter. He thinks of his family in Chicago and wonders how they are doing. Mostly he hates them for living off his property when he considers that he did not really do anything so bad.
He looks into investing in current businesses but finds that they want more money than he has. Discouraged, he returns to the new flat in which he and Carrie now live. Tension sparks between them, and Carrie is hurt. He tries to apologize but she will not speak to him. His final day at Shaughnessy’s comes, and he tells Carrie that he can now look for work full time.
He finds places that are out of his league or else below his level. He thinks of looking into a position in a hotel, but he has no clerking experience and the only people he knows in the New York hotel business also know about his past dealings with Fitzgerald and Moy’s in Chicago. He sits in a hotel lobby chair all day. When he returns home, Carrie tells him that a man had come for the rent that day. Slowly, he takes out the twenty-eight dollars for rent and gives it to her. He immerses himself in the daily news and the troubles of the world around him.
Hurstwood inquires about becoming a salesman at a whiskey wholesale business, but he meets with only a vague response. He is too old. He continues to find nothing and, as the winter progresses, spends more time in hotel lobbies than actually looking for work. When it storms, he does not bother to go out. He becomes ill, and Carrie sleeps in a separate bed. Hurstwood had been giving her twelve dollars a week for household expenses, but as he spends more time around the flat, he begins to be critical of how much money she spends. Out of boredom and out of penury, Hurstwood takes on the task of buying groceries.
One day, as he is sitting in a hotel lobby, he sees Cargill from Chicago. Cargill recognizes him too late to pretend not to see him, but he soon beats a hasty exit. Hurstwood’s reputation is now well known throughout his old circle of acquaintances, he realizes. Carrie gets more irritated by his constant hanging around the flat, not even bothering to look for work. She eventually...
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Chapters 36-37 Summary
When she is out shopping, Carrie runs into Mrs. Vance, who has returned from their summer stay in the country. Mrs. Vance has not heard from Carrie because Carrie did not let her know that she and Hurstwood had moved. When Mrs. Vance hears their new address, she knows the “Wheelers” have fallen on hard times. Both women invite each other to visit.
When Carrie returns to her flat, she tells Hurstwood of her meeting with Mrs. Vance. Hurstwood is dismissive of the woman; he says she moves in too fast a crowd for Carrie. Carrie retorts that the Vances have money because Mr. Vance works. Hurstwood goes out for a shave and then joins in a poker game at a saloon. He does not do well and loses sixty dollars. He is concerned; he counts his money to find that he has only three hundred and forty dollars left.
He goes home and puts on his old clothes. Carrie nags him to put on some decent clothes in case Mrs. Vance comes to visit. A few days later, Mrs. Vance does come to visit while Carrie is gone. She sees how disheveled Hurstwood’s clothes are and says she cannot stay but asks him to tell Carrie to come visit her. When Carrie returns home, she becomes irate at Hurstwood for his laziness. She asks why he married her. Hurstwood says he did not marry her at all—the ceremony in Montreal was not legal because he was still legally married to his first wife. Upset, Hurstwood storms out of the flat and wanders the streets until he finds another poker game. He loses; now he has only one hundred and ninety dollars left. When Carrie asks for the rent money, he sees that he is nearing his last hundred dollars.
Hurstwood tells Carrie how much money they have left. Carrie is horrified at the news and suggests that she try to find some work acting. Hurstwood laughs at her and says it is unlikely anyone in New York would hire someone with so little experience. Carrie suggests that he find a job then, since they need money. Secretly, Carrie inquires at places for information regarding agents. She applies at three, but no one will represent her until she gets experience acting on a local stage at least. One agent tells her that, for fifty dollars, he will be able to find her a spot within a month. Carrie thinks of jewelry she can pawn to raise the money. Hurstwood is not impressed and tells her not to risk it. Inwardly, he is horrified at what this will mean for him.
(The entire section is 442 words.)
Chapters 38-39 Summary
Carrie continues her search for a position in a theater chorus. The manager at the Casino tells her to come around at the beginning of the next week and he might have something for her then. This is encouraging, but Carrie still worries. Hurstwood still has not found anything, and Carrie is not sure that he is even looking for work when he goes out. On Monday, Carrie goes back to the Casino. The manager looks her over and likes her appearance. He has been told that the chorus is getting thin as to the looks department, so he tells her to show up for rehearsal the next morning; he warns that she will be dropped if she is late. Carrie goes home very excited, and Hurstwood goes out to get a shave and buy a steak in celebration.
Carrie arrives at the rehearsal and gives her name as Carrie Madenda, which she had used in her single performance in Chicago. She learns the steps quickly but is subject (as are the other girls) to the manager’s temper. She is worn out when the day is through. She feels indignant that Hurstwood still expects her to economize when they are now living off her earnings. She wonders if she will be able to work and keep house at the same time. She decides that, once she really gets started, she won’t bother but will make Hurstwood dine out. Hurstwood says he believes he will get a job when a new hotel opens up in September, but that is still several weeks away. Eventually, he has to ask Carrie for some money. She encourages him to take any job that pays. Cowed, Hurstwood agrees, even if it means digging ditches in the street.
Carrie continues to give Hurstwood money, but she also gives him instructions as to what to buy. Their roles have been reversed. He buys exactly what he is told to buy and brings home the change. This touches Carrie; she sees that he is using the money solely for food. She, on the other hand, feels a need to buy more clothes in order to keep up with the other chorus girls.
She befriends a girl named Osborne, who is making fifteen dollars a week, compared to Carrie’s twelve. They discuss finding new jobs after this show goes on the road. Carrie’s success on stage leads to an advancement in the chorus line as well as an increase in salary to eighteen dollars a week. She does not tell Hurstwood about her raise. She uses it to buy clothes and keeps her secret even when she learns that there is not enough from the supposed twelve dollars a week to pay all the bills....
(The entire section is 496 words.)
Chapters 40-41 Summary
Carrie learns that the hotel is not expected to open until October now. She feels more contemptuous of Hurstwood’s inability to find a job. She learns that her show will be closing and going on the road. She and Osborne go to another theater, where they are immediately given spots for twenty dollars a week. Carrie is jubilant at the increase in her salary. Hurstwood can see that she is doing better at her job because she is buying new and better quality clothes.
Hurstwood reads in the paper that the streetcar conductors may go on strike. As he reads over their demands, he sympathizes with them at first. However, he changes his mind when he learns that the streetcar company is hiring replacements for the strikers. Hurstwood knows that being a “scab” is dangerous, but he takes comfort at the notice that police will be protecting the cars. He applies at the head office and is given a job even though he has no experience. As he goes to the Barn to learn how to operate a streetcar, two policemen observe him and comment that he will soon get his fill; they have had experience with strikes before.
Hurstwood begins his streetcar conductor career in Brooklyn, where the company is especially shorthanded. Many of the other replacement workers have no experience in conducting either. He overhears them discussing the undesirability of being a scab, but they all need work. If they did not need the money, they would not be doing this and risking violence from the strikers.
An instructor shows Hurstwood how to run the car. At first, he believes it will be easy because he has seen it done on many of the cars he has ridden. Soon he realizes that the controls are trickier than they seem. He has some time to practice before lunch. He eats only a piece of dry bread and then waits for his turn. In the evening, he realizes that it would take him two and half hours to get back home. He and other conductors are directed to cots in a nearby building.
In the morning, Hurstwood gets on his car, along with two police officers. He is instructed to avoid crowds. On his run, many strikers throw verbal abuse at him. He tries to ignore it as much as he can. On his second run, things begin to get violent. Stones are thrown and the track is blocked. When the officers get out to clear the way, a fight breaks out. Hurstwood manages to get the car moving, but he hears a shot and feels a sting on his arm. He takes his car back to the...
(The entire section is 475 words.)
Chapters 42-43 Summary
One evening during a performance, one of the lead actors ad libs a line to Carrie, who ad libs one of her own. This is a hit with the audience, and she is told to keep the line in. Hurstwood, in the meantime, no longer has work because only police are running the streetcars during the strike. He hides in the flat, refusing to answer the door when creditors come calling. Lola Osborne, Carrie’s friend in the chorus line, asks her to share an apartment. Carrie’s share would come only to three dollars a week. This appeals to her because it would leave her more money for clothes. She hesitates, though, and tells Lola that she does not really want to move at the moment.
Carrie is soon offered a larger speaking part, which will earn her thirty-five dollars a week. She thinks of the expenses she has to pay for the flat with Hurstwood and decides she will no longer pay it because she is hardly ever there. She frequently stays with one of the other girls. She tells Lola she has changed her mind and will move in with her. At home, Hurstwood suggests that they move into a smaller place. She resists this idea, knowing that she could never stand to be shut up in two rooms with him. She borrows money from Lola and goes back to the flat. When Hurstwood comes home, he finds an envelope with twenty dollars and a letter from Carrie telling him she is leaving. Hurstwood is overcome with the idea that she would actually abandon him.
Carrie wonders for a short time if Hurstwood will try to find her. After several days during which there is no sign of him, she ceases to worry. She becomes focused on getting more attention in the papers. She has received one short notice, and she is eager for more. She and Lola discuss staying in New York for the summer instead of going on the road. When her picture finally appears in the paper, Carrie goes downtown to get more taken. She and Lola look for new roles, and Carrie is given a nonspeaking part. After a performance, the manager tells her to frown throughout her scenes to give the play more humor. The principal actor is upset that attention is taken away from him, but Carrie becomes a star. Her salary is raised from thirty dollars a week to one hundred fifty dollars, and her contract is extended for twelve months. Hurstwood notices her in the paper as he sits in his poverty; he figures that she has finally hit it big.
(The entire section is 442 words.)
Chapters 44-45 Summary
Carrie’s status in the theater troupe changes overnight. She is given a larger dressing room and the attitude of the other actors toward her becomes more polite and ingratiating. As she picks up her first hundred and fifty dollars’ pay, she thinks back to her time in the shoe factory, making four fifty a week. A representative from a new up-scale hotel offers her rooms at a bargain price of three dollars a day, compared to the normal one hundred dollars a week. She and Lola are overwhelmed by the luxury but move in at once. One day at the theater, Mrs. Vance arrives. She says no word about Carrie’s past poverty and asks no questions about Hurstwood. They arrange to dine together soon.
Carrie begins to receive love letters and proposals of marriage; each suitor claims to have at least a million dollars to keep her in comfort. Carrie rejects them, but Lola suggests that she meet some of them just for a good time. She also makes public appearances. However, she realizes that all this, with wealth and fame, is not enough to make her happy. She still feels lonely despite all the attention and activities. Lola points out that many would gladly change places with her, but Carrie soon begins to get bored with it all.
Hurstwood sits in a cheap hotel with only seventy dollars he got from the furniture from the flat. He sees Carrie’s pictures in the papers and on billboards. He moves to increasingly cheaper hotels and spends his days reading the newspapers and dreaming of his former life. He has difficulty differentiating between his dreams and his reality. He tries for a position at a hotel and begs for a job. He admits that he is a former manager fallen on hard times. He tells the manager that he managed for Fitzgerald and Moy’s in Chicago but does not say he stole from them. The manager, feeling sorry for him, gives him the lowest job he can find. Hurstwood sleeps in the attic and at least has something to eat. He becomes ill with pneumonia and is sent to the hospital, where he remains for several weeks.
He resorts to begging and then thinks of asking Carrie for money. He goes to the theater and waits for her, but she goes inside so fast that he misses her. He waits for a while but then wanders the streets. An ex-soldier who has devoted himself to finding beds for homeless men stands on a corner and calls out to passersby to donate a few cents. Sounding like an auctioneer, he gathers money for over a hundred...
(The entire section is 471 words.)
Chapters 46-47 Summary
When Carrie returns to New York after being on tour, Drouet forces himself into her dressing room. He looks the same and is still loud and overbearing. He tries to get Carrie to go out to dinner with him that evening but she puts him off until the next day; she tells him to meet her at the Waldorf, where she is now living. Drouet clearly wants to reconnect with her and resume their relationship, but Carrie has moved passed that. She avoids meeting him again.
That evening Carrie is startled when Hurstwood approaches her, asking for money. At first she does not recognize him, but when she hears his voice she feels concerned about his obvious physical decline. She gives him money and he leaves, promising not to bother her again. Carrie is haunted by this encounter.
She goes to London for several months. When she returns, she meets Ames, who is now living in New York and pursuing his inventions in a new laboratory. She does not feel the same attraction to him that she felt before, but she meets him for dinner. He tells her that, with her vulnerable appearance, she should not be doing comedy. She thinks about this and tells Lola she is considering going into a more serious play. However, she is comfortable where she is and hates to change, so she does nothing for the present.
Hurstwood goes from soup kitchen to soup kitchen, of which New York is filled, but he is seemingly invisible to those who are well situated. He waits in the cold with the other homeless, filing through the dining room to get a free meal. Frequently he thinks of ending his life, but then he gets a few cents that will take him on to his next meal and his next bed. His appearance continues to disintegrate until he is seen as an inexorable bum and even begging becomes profitless. He sees Carrie’s name in lights and thinks she owes him something, but he is thrown down the steps when he tries to see her.
Carrie resides comfortably in her rooms, reading a better class of novel, as Ames suggested. She remembers with shame the types of books she used to read. She sees herself as having risen to a higher level. Drouet remains in the city, but he soon gives up hope of ever seeing Carrie again. Hurstwood rents a room, turns on the gas, and commits suicide. Mrs. Hurstwood, Jessica, and her new husband pass through New York on their way to Rome. Carrie now has all she once thought would make her life complete: money, comfort, and friends. The...
(The entire section is 453 words.)