Sister Carrie | Study Guide

Theodore Dreiser

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Sister Carrie | Chapter 26 | Summary



As soon as Drouet leaves, Carrie fixates on her financial situation. Finding seven dollars and change in her wallet, she wastes no time in realizing she must seek employment. The next day is rainy, so she puts off her job search until Saturday. When the day dawns sunny, she walks toward the business district. However, she soon determines Saturday afternoon is not a good time for applying and heads to Lincoln Park to enjoy the scenery.

By Monday Carrie has decided to focus on finding employment in the theatrical world. However, she does not know how to begin and soon loses her courage. Tuesday she strikes out again, but this time gaining information about how to go about her search by asking questions of a box-office boy. She gains entrance to the manager of the Grand Opera House, who offers her some advice but then flirts with her and tries to get her to go to lunch with him. Carrie continues on to the Chicago Opera House and McVickar's before giving up for the day. She rides a car to the post office where she finds a letter from Hurstwood. After reading it she pens a response, stating in no uncertain terms, "We must not meet any more. Good-bye."

When Carrie goes to mail the letter the next day she is not so certain after all. But she does drop it in the box. She then travels to the shopping district to try to find a job in the department stores. After a full day of applying, this option seems as unlikely to yield results as the others. A weary Carrie returns to the apartment to find Drouet has been there and taken more of his things. She weeps as she realizes she is truly alone. For Drouet's part, he was disappointed when she did not come home while he was there and plans to return tomorrow.


Although Carrie seems to realize her predicament, which might elicit some empathetic feelings from readers, it's significant her cares are focused on money, not on matters of the heart. Dreiser explains, "She did not want Drouet or his money when she thought of it, nor anything more to do with Hurstwood, but only the content and ease of mind she had experienced."

When she weeps about being left alone, it's because "She would be facing the world in the same old way." Her main worry is her clothes will "get poor." She thinks fleetingly of her sister Minnie and her Columbia City home, immediately dismissing the thought of them as any sort of refuge. That life is dead for her because it could never offer what she wants.

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