Sister Carrie

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Carrie Meeber, a poor and inexperienced young woman, leaves her hometown in Wisconsin to live with her sister and find work in Chicago. Life soon becomes a grind of never-ending labor for mere survival. Falling ill and losing her poor-paying job, she accepts money from Charles Drouet, a man whom she met on the train when she traveled to the city. Eventually, she becomes his mistress.

Drouet’s friend, G. W. Hurstwood, is fascinated by Carrie’s charm and beauty. Carrie and Hurstwood fall in love and begin an affair. Mrs. Hurstwood threatens that unless he leaves Carrie, she will sue him for divorce. Faced with social and financial ruin, Hurstwood steals several thousand dollars from his employer and takes Carrie to Montreal. Given the opportunity to return the money, he does give back most of it, but his life is changed forever.

Hurstwood and Carrie marry under the name of Wheeler. She does not realize that the ceremony is not legal. They move to New York, but he cannot find work and they continually flee creditors. Carrie finds work as a chorus girl and eventually becomes well-known as an actress. She leaves Hurstwood and succeeds on her own, becoming rich and famous. As his fortunes decline, hers rise.

During the famous streetcar strike of the time, Hurstwood works as a scab, but soon he degenerates into a bum. He visits Carrie and gets some money from her, but he never goes back to her again and finally dies. Carrie, invited to perform in Europe, sails without knowing that...

(The entire section is 622 words.)