The significance of the quote from a feminist perspective is that Carrie has little chance of standing up the Drouet’s charms, because she is just a poor country girl and he is a city man.
Carrie has left home, hoping to strike out on her own.
She was eighteen years or age, bright, timid, and full of the illusions of ignorance and youth. (ch 1, p. 2)
At this point, Carrie finally acknowledges the man sitting behind her. She has been aware of him for some time. She is traveling alone to the city, trying to get away from being a country girl. However, as a country girl she has little experience.
Carrie is aware that this man is interested in her, and “with natural intuition she felt a certain interest growing in that quarter” (p. 3). Yet she is powerless to react appropriately. As a country girl, she has not been raised to be as independent as she would like. She’s not worldly. She does not know how to avoid his attentions, because she does not know what trouble he can get her into. She just answers him honestly.