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.