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.