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Sister Carrie

Theodore Dreiser


Chapters 36-42

page 1 of 2


Carrie encounters Mrs. Vance and invites her to visit. Mrs. Vance senses that Hurstwood and Carrie are in difficult financial straits. The meeting with her old friend increases Carrie's resentment toward Hurstwood's idleness. Hurstwood turns to gambling and loses sixty dollars. Mrs. Vance calls one day when Carrie is out, but Hurstwood's disheveled appearance shocks her so much that she does not wait for Carrie's return. The news of the incident infuriates Carrie. During a quarrel, Hurstwood drives Carrie to tears by insisting that their marriage is illegal. Soon after, he loses more money gambling.

Carrie decides to look for work as an actress. She finally gets a position as a chorus girl at twelve dollars a week. She uses "Carrie Madenda" as her stage name. Having found work so quickly, she resents Hurstwood's months of joblessness even more than she had before. She insinuates that he is not actually looking for work when he goes out. She resents her new position of having to support Hurstwood her small wage. Now that she is paying the household expenses, her desire for new clothing and small ornaments grows. Rather than paying rent, she buys a new pair of shoes, and Hurstwood begins buying groceries on credit. Carrie befriends another chorus girl, Lola, and they start spending evenings out together.

Carrie receives a more important position and a six dollar raise, but she hides the news from Hurstwood. She buys more clothes and again runs short on rent. Hurstwood continues to buy on credit. She and Hurstwood quarrel over expenses. He knows that she is lying about her income because he sees the new things she has purchased. Once, she spends a whole evening out with Lola and her friends. They go to dinner, and Carrie is reminded of the Vances and Mr. Ames. She wonders whether she would make a good actress and what Mr. Ames would think of her.

Carrie's show goes on the road, so she finds another position as a chorus girl for twenty dollars a week. Carrie realizes that Hurstwood was lying about the business opportunity at the end of the summer. She continues to pay expenses and keep the flat in order. Hurstwood's clothes have started to become worn, and he stops pretending that he is looking for work. However, the workers on the trolley lines begin striking for fewer hours and better wages, and to stave off his creditors Hurstwood decides to work as a driver on the trolleys--to become a scab.

On his first day at work, two policemen accompany him on the car. People shout "Scab!" at him from the street, and some strikers block the tracks with debris. The policemen beat off the strikers. Hurstwood and the conductor clear the tracks. Hurstwood manages to drive away while the strikers toss stones at him. Soon, however, they encounter a larger, angrier mob. Someone hits Hurstwood and a pistol is fired, and Hurstwood quits the job then and there. He returns home and reads the newspaper. Carrie thinks he has quit out of laziness.

Lola asks Carrie if she wants to get an apartment together and split the rent. Carrie replies that she is unsure. Soon thereafter, she gets a speaking part in a play when the original actress quits. She receives $35 a week for her role. She has to buy clothes for the part, but rent day is coming. She decides to move in with Lola because she will only have to pay twelve dollars a month for rent.

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