Sister Carrie | Study Guide

Theodore Dreiser

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Sister Carrie | Chapters 28–29 | Summary

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Summary

Hurstwood's serious demeanor as he and Carrie travel in the cab contributes to her ability to believe the situation he has presented. He explains Drouet is in a hospital far away, and the quickest way to get there is by train. As they reach the depot he buys tickets and hustles her onto the Detroit-bound train with no time to spare.

Carrie and Hurstwood travel mostly in silence until it slowly dawns on her they have been traveling too long to still be in Chicago. Hurstwood admits he is taking her elsewhere, but before he can provide details she begins to make a scene and threatens to tell the conductor she is on the train against her will. Hurstwood tries to calm her, and, although she will not communicate with him, she does not speak to the conductor either as he comes through their car.

Hurstwood then proceeds to present his case to Carrie, who alternates between appearing to ignore him and responding vehemently against him. When he tells her she will be able to see Montreal and New York City with him, with no strings attached, she warms to the idea. She becomes more sympathetic toward Hurstwood as she hears the fierceness in his declaration of love for her. "Will you let me come back if I want to?" she asks, and Hurstwood knows he has won for the moment. He tenderly settles her down for a rest, but he remains highly agitated as they approach Detroit, where he worries police will be waiting for him. He successfully acquires tickets on an immediate train to Montreal once they arrive, however, and they continue safely on their way.

In Chapter 29 Carrie relaxes as the train carries her to a new place. She even thinks about her situation in a positive light. Maybe she will even be happy. As soon as they arrive in Montreal, Hurstwood checks them into a fine hotel, signing in as "G.W. Murdock and wife." Carrie is pleased with the room where he leaves her to wash up after she secures the promise from him he will marry her that day.

In the hotel lobby Hurstwood runs into a friend from Chicago, Mr. Kenny. His worry returns in full force, fed by his belief a detective is already on his tail, standing in the lobby observing him.

When Carrie and Hurstwood go out to breakfast, she is disenchanted with the city. Hurstwood seizes the opportunity to stay on the move, saying they will leave immediately for the much more exciting New York City. After shopping for new clothes for Carrie, they return to the hotel. Hurstwood reads the paper and sees his crime has been written up. His increasing anxiety proves true as the detective from the lobby knocks on the door and threatens Hurstwood, saying he must return the stolen money or he will never "get out of Canada."

Hurstwood decides to write to Fitzgerald and Moy, promising to return the major portion of the money and pay the rest back soon, and asking if he might be able to keep his job. As he waits for the reply, he marries Carrie. They use the name Wheeler, since Carrie dislikes the name Murdock.

At last the reply to his letter comes, agreeing not to prosecute him but declining to give him his job back at this time. So Hurstwood sends all but $1,300 to them and acts quickly to move him and Carrie to New York City. As they arrive in the place where they will begin their new life together, Carrie states she dislikes her first exposure to the city.

Analysis

Readers can remember that it was not so long ago Hurstwood extracted the promise from Carrie she would go away with him if he came for her in the middle of the night. The situational irony lies in the fact he is now carrying her away under false pretenses in a situation far from the romantic scenario the couple had envisioned and the reader had expected.

Hurstwood's response to Carrie's desire to flee from him and the situation is in direct contrast to Drouet's a few nights previous. Hurstwood demands she listen, whereas Drouet wanted her to talk. Her fury at being deceived is the same, however; neither man is in control of her response. They both try to soften her in the same way, by saying they will help her and take care of her as she makes up her mind what to do. The reason Hurstwood ultimately succeeds where Drouet has failed is in the fact Carrie sees a new opportunity. Soon her concern about her immediate future is reduced to the same one she had as her relationship with Drouet ended; she does not have "the necessary apparel." Hurstwood can easily remedy that, and he also succumbs to her demands to get married. Carrie does not realize that cannot be legal, just as she has no idea Hurstwood is now a criminal.

In truth, Carrie is oblivious to much that is not about her. By contrast, and to Hurstwood's credit, even in his horrible situation he pays attention to her and her needs. He is kind and concerned and protective of her, fervent in his declarations of his love, and interested only in securing her constant presence in his life. However, that the life might not work out as planned for either of them is foreshadowed as Chapter 29 ends. Hurstwood thinks how disagreeable it will be to have to count his expenses, and Carrie dislikes the lack of lawns in the concrete city.

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