Chapters 38-39 Summary
Carrie continues her search for a position in a theater chorus. The manager at the Casino tells her to come around at the beginning of the next week and he might have something for her then. This is encouraging, but Carrie still worries. Hurstwood still has not found anything, and Carrie is not sure that he is even looking for work when he goes out. On Monday, Carrie goes back to the Casino. The manager looks her over and likes her appearance. He has been told that the chorus is getting thin as to the looks department, so he tells her to show up for rehearsal the next morning; he warns that she will be dropped if she is late. Carrie goes home very excited, and Hurstwood goes out to get a shave and buy a steak in celebration.
Carrie arrives at the rehearsal and gives her name as Carrie Madenda, which she had used in her single performance in Chicago. She learns the steps quickly but is subject (as are the other girls) to the manager’s temper. She is worn out when the day is through. She feels indignant that Hurstwood still expects her to economize when they are now living off her earnings. She wonders if she will be able to work and keep house at the same time. She decides that, once she really gets started, she won’t bother but will make Hurstwood dine out. Hurstwood says he believes he will get a job when a new hotel opens up in September, but that is still several weeks away. Eventually, he has to ask Carrie for some money. She encourages him to take any job that pays. Cowed, Hurstwood agrees, even if it means digging ditches in the street.
Carrie continues to give Hurstwood money, but she also gives him instructions as to what to buy. Their roles have been reversed. He buys exactly what he is told to buy and brings home the change. This touches Carrie; she sees that he is using the money solely for food. She, on the other hand, feels a need to buy more clothes in order to keep up with the other chorus girls.
She befriends a girl named Osborne, who is making fifteen dollars a week, compared to Carrie’s twelve. They discuss finding new jobs after this show goes on the road. Carrie’s success on stage leads to an advancement in the chorus line as well as an increase in salary to eighteen dollars a week. She does not tell Hurstwood about her raise. She uses it to buy clothes and keeps her secret even when she learns that there is not enough from the supposed twelve dollars a week to pay all the bills. Carrie joins a group of girls and young men for an evening on the town. She realizes that she has missed getting home for dinner but dismisses it. At home, Hurstwood realizes he is losing Carrie.