Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Sister Carrie - Kindle edition by Dreiser, Theodore. Literature ...

Carrie, a country girl, came to Chicago with a longing for the city. Carrie soon felt disappointed after a while. She lived in her sister’s house, and the shabby and humiliating conditions destroyed her dreams. At that moment Drouet, whom Carrie had met on the train, appeared. He extended a generous hand and offered financial help, and the two moved in together. The present life was a little like the one she had dreamed of, but she found that the relationship was not right. Then he meets Hurstwood, a publican, and they flirt and fall in love. Often, as they walked among the lights and the wine and the food, Carrie saw the congruity between dream and reality. However, such a life can not come so easily. Something happened to the landlord. In desperation, Hurstwood fled to New York with Carrie. For the rest of his life, the tavern owner was stranded like a dog. Once again she experienced what hardship meant. By chance, Sister Carrie found work at the Opera, and her good looks and natural voice put to good use. She grew popular and wealthy, and Hurstwood became a worn and rusted machine before her eyes. She left Hurstwood and lived a life of splendor alone which made Hurstwood kill himself.

This work is characterized by realism, which reveals the tragic fact of people’s fanatical pursuit of The American dream in the early 20th century. It reveals the instinctive theme that drives people to enjoy but ultimately disillusion and shows that there can be no real happiness in the money-centered American capitalist society. It can be seen from the novel that Carrie’s degeneration has certain social factors. First of all, due to the capitalist system at that time, Carrie was the representative of a group of people at the bottom of society. She was forced by a hard life and had to go down the road. On the other hand, it stems from Carrie’s dissatisfaction with the present situation of life and her constant pursuit of a higher life to satisfy her desire, which leads the man on whom she constantly depends to embark on this degenerate road. It was social and objective that Carrie had lost her job. It was this objective factor that led Carrie down a depraved path. Even when Hurstwood had told her that he had a wife, his financial ability and social position still attracted Carrie so deeply that she followed him to New York. For this man was able to gratify Carrie’s desires and her great vanity. Because in society at that time, having money meant still having a good quality of life. Having a high social status is not the value orientation of Carrie alone, but the value orientation of the whole society. It is this value orientation that influences a group of women from the countryside like Carrie to take this path.

-Coreen C.

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