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 begins to sleep separately every night.