Implicit Metaphors as a form of Imagery:
The new jacket Carrie receives as "a gift" could represent the first "trade-off" she makes - when she decides to compromise her sexuality to receive certain material favours. It is the beginning of a long slide downhill and the point of no return (from a moral standpoint, that is).
Another very graphic symbol is the rocking chair Carrie frequently retreats to. It is a symbol of movement without real progress - of "going nowhere." It is also a symbol of regression to a child-like state instead of maturing, moving on, and assuming one's responsibilities.
Check out the following references for a biographical sketch of Theodore Dreiser and for pertinent information concerning the relationship between his works and the Industrial Revolution. For an overview of themes, see the following: