Sister Carrie (1900) is a novel by Theodore Dreiser about a young country girl who moves to the big city where she starts realizing her own American Dream by first becoming a mistress to men that she perceives as superior and later as a famous actress. (From feedbooks.com)
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Chapter 1 - THE MAGNET ATTRACTING—A WAIF AMID FORCES
Published in 1900, Sister Carrie is considered a classic among American novels. Its main theme is the pursuit of the American Dream, and author Theodore Dreiser's criticisms of social and economic inequalities in society pervade the novel.
Which of the following have we not yet learned about Caroline?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
Carrie is most impressed by
Notice what draws people to Carrie or what repels them from her. Dresier establishes one of the main themes of the book, the role of materialism in society, through Carrie's reactions.
Can you think of at least two reasons why Carrie does not want Mr. Drouet and her sister to meet? Jot them down, and then check back after you read a few chapters to reflect on your initial ideas.
Below is a photograph of Chicago's main train station at the time of this novel. Coming from rural America, Carrie is very impressed by the grandeur of the place. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 2 - WHAT POVERTY THREATENED—OF GRANITE AND BRASS
Use the dictionary feature to look up the word "discordantly" and then choose which of the following sentences we can infer.
Sister Carrie is a book with few characters and by now you have met about half of them. To help you appreciate Dreiser's character development, watch the following video, and keep the ideas present in your mind as you continue to read. (This annotation contains a video)
Notice how the narrator shifts tone, and invites "us" (the readers) to join her/him in the story. By paying attention to when Dreiser uses this narrative technique, you will appreciate his craft as a writer more.
What impression do the narrator's descriptions of Chicago give us of this place?
Chapter 3 - WEE QUESTION OF FORTUNE—FOUR-FIFTY A WEEK
Why do you imagine that looking for work is so difficult for Carrie? Do you think it will become easier or more difficult over time?
Carl Sandburg's poem "Chicago" is one of the best-known pieces written about the city, or any American city, for that matter. First published in 1914, it provides an interesting companion to this novel. Follow the link below to read it when you have a chance, and be prepared to answer a question about it later. (This annotation contains a link)
Department stores emerged as a by-product of the Industrial Revolution. New York City and Chicago were the first American cities to boast department stores, in the middle of the nineteenth century. Below is an image of an early one in Chicago. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Mr. McManus suggest that Carrie seek employment at a department store?
While not a main theme in this book, the issue of anti-Semitism pops up more than once. To learn more about this form of bigotry and other manifestations of discrimination, take a look at the website of the Anti-Defamation League. (This annotation contains a link)
What kind of work would Carrie likely do atSpeigelheim & Co.?
In an earlier chapter, you were invited to watch a video about character development. To fully appreciate how Carrie develops and changes over time, consider keeping a reading journal for this book. How would you describe Carrie right now?
What has contributed most to Carrie's renewed, positive feelings?
Chapter 4 - THE SPENDINGS OF FANCY—FACTS ANSWER WITH SNEERS
Carrie is drawn to the theater, which will be important throughout this novel. Below is an image of Jacobs Theater, one of many in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the conversation between Carrie and Minnie, and the imagined response of Sven, exemplify the differences between Carrie and the other family members?
Watch the following video about similes and metaphors, and then think about how the author uses figurative language in the highlighted text. (This annotation contains a video)
Use the dictionary feature to look up the word "harbourage" then choose which sentence best reflects what the narrator is communicating.
The descriptions of the harsh working conditions place this novel in the genre of Realism, whose authors also include Upton Sinclair and Mark Twain.
Which of the following does not seem to be true of the working conditions at Carrie's factory?
Clothing figures as a major motif in this novel, and is often tied to the themes of wealth and status. It is worth noting Carrie's feelings about clothing and other possessions.
How does the behavior of these young men compare to how Mr. Drouet treats Carrie on the train? Is Dreiser making a comment about social class here?
Chapter 5 - A GLITTERING NIGHT FLOWER—THE USE OF A NAME
This chapter, which introduces Hurstwood, provides a contrast to the dreary working conditions that Carrie is facing.
We learn many things about G. W. Hurstwood in this chapter. Which of the following is not among the details we learn?
Wealthy people are often depicted as fat in literature and art. Below is a painting by Fernando Botero, whose work often features upper-class men and women. Do you think the painting accompanies the highlighted text well? (This annotation contains an image)
Read the highlighted text in which Drouet and Hurstwood discuss Jules Wallace, the spiritualist, and then decide what the two men think about spiritualism and Wallace. What does this suggest about the two men? Jot down your ideas and compare with a classmate.
Chapter 6 - THE MACHINE AND THE MAIDEN—A KNIGHT OF TO-DAY
The chapter titles often give us a clue about what will happen in the following pages. If Carrie is the maiden referred to, and the machine is her workplace, to whom does the word "knight" most likely refer?
By describing the increasingly negative mood of the apartment, and the disintegration of the relationships in it, Dreiser prepares us for a change of events. What do you imagine will happen, and why do you think this?
The word "common" here is used
In an earlier chapter, you had the opportunity to watch a video about similes and metaphors. Here, the author uses the extended metaphor of flowers to help us understand Carrie's situation.
How does the narrator build sympathy for Carrie in this part of the story? Jot down two examples.
How does the author create a mood of despair? Is it through description, dialogue, inner thoughts, or a combination of these?
What do we learn about Drouet from this conversation?
To help you see the meal through Carrie's eyes, we include a photograph of a similar meal below. (This annotation contains an image)
What do you think of Drouet's financial gift to Carrie? How do you think it will impact their relationship?
We can't say with precision, but $20 at the time that this book was written was worth about $500 today. What do you think of Dr. Drouet giving Carrie such a generous gift?
Chapter 7 - THE LURE OF THE MATERIAL—BEAUTY SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
Which of the following sentences best summarizes the narrator's point in the highlighted paragraph?
Look up the word "prevaricate," and then read the ensuing dialogue between Minnie and Carrie. Do you think it is right for Carrie to prevaricate in this situation? Why or why not?
Which adjective best describes Carrie at this moment?
What does the highlighted text suggest about gender roles in the society depicted in the novel? Can you paraphrase what is being said about women? What about men?
Which of the following motifs is present in this scene?
Drouet seems to be in a hurry to settle Carrie into a new life. What do you think motivates him?
What do you think of how Carrie leaves her sister's home? How do you think her sister and brother-in-law will each respond when they discover her note?
Chapter 8 - INTIMATIONS BY WINTER—AN AMBASSADOR SUMMONED
Dreiser belongs to a literary school called "naturalism." One of the hallmarks of this kind of writing is the presence of a narrator who is detached from the characters. We can see this in the opening paragraphs of this chapter.
Which of the following statements most accurately reflects the relationship between Drouet and Carrie at this point?
"The Mikado" is one of many collaborative works by Gilbert and Sullivan. Below is a brief clip of one of the musical numbers, to give you an idea of the work. (This annotation contains a video)
Reread the above paragraph, and then decide what the narrator is saying about Carrie. Is she governed by a strong set of principles, or is she swept along by events of the moment?
What do you make of Minnie's dreams about Carrie? What do we learn about the former's feelings for her sister?
Why does Drouet invite Hurstwood to visit?
Chapter 9 - CONVENTION'S OWN TINDER-BOX—THE EYE THAT IS GREEN
The descriptions of the Hurstwood residence suggest that it is a house and not a home, as the saying goes. Below is a photograph to help you imagine the abode. (This annotation contains an image)
From what we have seen so far, which of the following is not true about the Hurstwood family?
How is Jessica similar to Carrie? How are they different? Jot down a few ideas.
What does the highlighted text suggest about Mr. Hurstwood's beliefs? Which of the following would he most likely agree with?
The narrator seems to be suggesting a bleak future for the Hurstwood couple. Watch the following video about foreshadowing, and look for other examples of this device as you read. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 10 - THE COUNSEL OF WINTER—FORTUNE'S AMBASSADOR CALLS
Look up the word "halcyon," and decide which of the following best expresses what the author intends in the highlighted sentence.
Social mores during the late 1800s were quite different from what they are today. Carrie's inner dialogue, expressed above, captures her moral dilemma about what she is doing and the choices she is making. Can you summarize her feelings in a sentence or two?
Why does Carrie want to get married to Drouet?
Below is a still shot from the 1952 film version of Sister Carrie, picturing Carrie with the two men, playing euchre, a popular card game. (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator seems to be preparing us for something in the relationship between Carrie and Hurstwood. What do you make of this and why?
Mr. Hurstwood likely knows that Drouet and Carrie are not married. Why does he go along with their pretense?
Chapter 11 - THE PERSUASION OF FASHION—FEELING GUARDS O'ER ITS OWN
Drouet wants Carrie to become more like the women he admires, and she seems willing to do so. Compare this to another story you have read in the last year where the main character was pushed to change by someone else.
Dreiser uses figurative language often in this work. To gain a fuller appreciation for this technique, as well as to review some key words associated with it, watch the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
What mistake does Drouet make with Carrie?
What is troubling Drouet? Why does Hurstwood's opinion of him matter?
Thinking about the video you watched a few pages ago, choose which kind of figurative language the author uses in the highlighted sentence.
Hurstwood refers to the stage actor Joe Jefferson, who is pictured below playing the part of Rip Van Winkle. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 12 - OF THE LAMPS OF THE MANSIONS—THE AMBASSADOR PLEA
After reading the highlighted text, what do you imagine this chapter will include?
How would you characterize the tone of the conversation between the Hurstwoods? What do we learn about their relationship here?
Which statement best summarizes Carrie's relationship with Mrs. Hale?
Have you noticed how Dreiser uses mirrors in this novel? Pay attention to Carrie's thoughts when she looks into the mirror, and reflect on what we learn about her.
What is the narrator suggesting here?
Carrie is at a crossroad here. Can you summarize what is pulling her in each direction?
Chapter 13 - HIS CREDENTIALS ACCEPTED—A BABEL OF TONGUES
What or whom is the narrator referring to with the highlighted metaphor?
How does Dreiser use similes to help us feel what Hurstwood is feeling now towards Carrie? What do you think of this budding relationship?
Why is Hurstwood anxious about being in this neighborhood?
Try to imagine the peaceful setting that Hurstwood chooses for this outing. The photograph below will help you imagine the carriage they ride in. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you trust Hurstwood's sincerity? Explain why or why not in a sentence or two.
How does the highlighted paragraph help us understand Carrie's thinking? What do you imagine Carrie feels for Hurstwood?
Chapter 14 - WITH EYES AND NOT SEEING—ONE INFLUENCE WANES
Which of the following has Hurstwood not shared with Carrie as of yet?
At different points in this book, we will know information that at least one of the characters does not know. This is called dramatic irony. To learn more about the different kinds of irony an author might use, watch the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
Prejudice against Jews based on physical characteristics is called "racial Anti-Semitism," and has existed for hundreds of years. In the highlighted text, the speaker alludes to the stereotypical large, "Jewish" nose. Can you think of why this would be considered offensive today?
Why is marriage so important to Carrie? How does her question reflect the social mores of the time?
Is Carrie being realistic in her expectations? On what do you base your thinking?
Why is it ironic that the characters are watching this play?
Chapter 15 - THE IRK OF THE OLD TIES—THE MAGIC OF YOUTH
Of the several reasons that Mrs. Hurstwood has for wanting a season ticket to the races, which do you think is the most important to her? What do these reasons reveal about her?
Which statement best sums up the Hurstwoods' marriage at this time?
Does it seem likely or unlikely that Hurstwood plans to tell Carrie soon that he is married? How does this shape your opinion of him?
What do we learn about Carrie from the highlighted paragraph?
Below is a reproduction of a famous painting by Georges Seurat, "Sunday in the Park." How does it compare to the setting described by Dreiser in the highlighted text? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following adjectives best describes the tone of this conversation between Carrie and Hurstwood?
Does Hurstwood seem sincere or manipulative in this conversation? Explain your thinking.
Carrie's desire to be rescued is reminiscent of women in fairy tales. Can you think of a story from your childhood with a damsel in distress? How does she compare with Carrie?
Chapter 16 - A WITLESS ALADDIN—THE GATE TO THE WORLD
Aladdin refers to the main character in a well-known folktale from the Middle East. Watch the trailer to the Disney movie based on this story, and think about the way in which the characters are depicted. Do they seem realistic or stereotypical to you? (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Drouet agree to help find an actress for his fellow Masonic brothers?
To which part of Drouet's "nature" does the highlighted text refer?
Which of the following best captures Carrie's feelings about Drouet's request that she audition for the part?
In what ways does Carrie's lively imagination serve her well? In what ways does it work against her best interests?
Drouet continues to lie. Why do you think Carrie believes him? What does this suggest about her?
Sister Carrie - Quiz One
Are Drouet and Carrie happy about the acting opportunity for the same reasons, or for different reasons?
Chapter 17 - A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE GATEWAY—HOPE LIGHTENS THE EYE
Read the highlighted passage and decide whose point of view it represents.
Do you notice how both men are lying? Does it seem that deception is coming more easily to the main characters as the novel progresses?
How does this play reflect the story of Carrie?
While taken in a different place and a different era, the photo below of a begging child can help us imagine some of the emotion of this scene. (This annotation contains an image)
Carrie seems to be a natural in her role as an actor. What does this reveal about her character?
Drouet's lack of enthusiasm for Carrie's work disappoints her greatly. How do you think this will affect their relationship long-term?
Chapter 18 - JUST OVER THE BORDER—A HAIL AND FAREWELL
In the highlighted sentence, the phrase "the subtle hand" is an example of
The poster below, depicting a scene from the play "Under the Gaslight," captures some of the drama. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this passage reveal about Hurstwood?
Read through to the end of this paragraph, and then decide if it is totally complimentary, or if the author is perhaps making a critique of the upper-middle class. Be prepared to explain your ideas.
Chapter 19 - AN HOUR IN ELFLAND—A CLAMOUR HALF HEARD
Which word best describes the performance so far?
Does Drouet's pep talk surprise you, or is it consistent with his personality and their relationship?
Drouet may have multiple reasons for coaching Carrie and helping her rediscover her confidence. What might these reasons be?
How do Hurstwood's feelings for Carrie compare to Drouet's? How are they similar and how are they different? Make a list.
Which of the following is Hurstwood not feeling in this scene?
What do you think of the highlighted lines spoken by Carrie's character in the play? Why do you think author Dreiser includes them here?
The relationships in the play are somewhat parallel to the relationships between Carrie, Drouet, and Hurstwood. This is an example of
Watch the following video about tone and mood, and think about how the inclusion of the play's dialogue impacts the mood of this chapter. (This annotation contains a video)
What does "in fine feather" mean here?
What do you anticipate happening in the next chapter or two? Explain your thinking.
Chapter 20 - THE LURE OF THE SPIRIT—THE FLESH IN PURSUIT
What are the various factors contributing to the high level of tension between Mr. and Mrs. Hurstwood?
Dreiser has his characters reading a newspaper at different points in this novel. If you pay attention to this, you will be able to appreciate how the author uses this motif to deepen our understanding of the characters and plot.
Why is Drouet being so kind to the chambermaid?
What do you think of the way in which Drouet attempts to manipulate the chambermaid? Do you think she is falling for his pretenses?
Since we readers know much more than both Drouet and Mrs. Hurstwood, we can appreciate how the author uses ________ in this chapter.
The phrase "b'George" is a contraction of "by George," which is a euphemism for God from sixteenth century England. If you are curious to learn more about this expression, check out the following page: (This annotation contains a link)
Chapter 21 - THE LURE OF THE SPIRIT—THE FLESH IN PURSUIT
Which of the following adjectives best describes Carrie's current emotional state?
It is interesting that while Carrie was willing to move in with Drouet without being married, she is hesitant to do so with Hurstwood. What do you think has changed?
Do Carrie and Hurstwood feel the same about one another? Compare and contrast what is written about each one's feelings in this chapter.
Chapter 22 - THE BLAZE OF THE TINDER—FLESH WARS WITH THE FLESH
Given the title of this chapter, whom do you think is going to be at war?
Dreiser uses ________________ in the highlighted sentence to describe Mrs. Hurstwood's behavior.
Pay attention to how the author slows down the pace of this chapter. How does it affect the mood?
Dresier again uses a metaphor to describe Mrs. Hurstwood. What is the meaning of the highlighted text?
How does Dreiser use specific words to create a war-like atmosphere? Jot down at least 3 examples from the highlighted paragraph.
What does the highlighted text reveal about Hurstwood?
What one sees in a mirror is often influenced by many different factors. The image below, from a cartoon, reminds us of how distorted this can be. Try to appreciate the author's frequent use of mirrors in this novel. (This annotation contains an image)
How is the balance of power shifting between the Hurstwoods? Who is responsible for this?
Chapter 23 - A SPIRIT IN TRAVAIL—ONE RUNG PUT BEHIND
Read through the following paragraph and summarize what the narrator is saying about women and love in general, and Carrie's feelings in particular.
What does Drouet's manner of questioning Carrie suggest about him?
What do you imagine Carrie is feeling right now? What gives you this idea?
Carrie is accusing Drouet of
How does Carrie's remark about being a toy reflect the gender roles of the time?
Carrie is feeling an array of emotions. Which of the following is she NOT experiencing in this scene?
What is motivating Drouet to be kind to Carrie in this scene? Is his thoughtfulness consistent with what we know about him?
Carrie rocks in the chair from time to time. What might this symbolize?
"Go to the deuce" is an old-fashioned way of telling someone to "go to the devil." Why is Drouet speaking to Carrie this way?
Chapter 24 - ASHES OF TINDER—A FACE AT THE WINDOW
What can we infer from the highlighted paragraph?
Watch the following video about imagery, and ponder how the author uses images in the highlighted paragraph to affect the mood and grab our attention. (This annotation contains a video)
The person seen in the window by the cabdriver is most likely
Chapter 25 - ASHES OF TINDER—THE LOOSING OF STAYS
Why do you think Hurstwood ends up sending his wife the money? What motivates him?
Why does the author capitalize, and therefore emphasize, "THINKING" in the text? What does it suggest about Hurstwood's behavior until now?
What do you anticipate in the following chapter or two? Jot down some ideas, and then check back after reading more.
Chapter 26 - THE AMBASSADOR FALLEN—A SEARCH FOR THE GATE
Whose point of view is reflected here?
Carrie is very self-aware, probably more so than most individuals during her era. In what ways has she changed since we first met her?
In this context, the word "fair" is likely to mean
The photograph below gives us a glimpse into the grandeur of this Chicago Opera House from the late 1800s. (This annotation contains an image)
Does this manager seem truly interested in hiring Carrie or not? What clues does the author provide?
Hurstwood's manipulative behavior gives us a glimpse into a part of his character that we haven't seen much of before. It will be interesting to see if and how this develops.
What does Carrie's response to Hurstwood's letter tell us about her?
Chapter 27 - WHEN WATERS ENGULF US WE REACH FOR A STAR
Hurstwood does not accept that Carrie is ending their relationship. The narrator suggests denial is typical of humans. Do you agree?
Which adjective best describes Hurstwood at this point?
This image of Hurstwood fitting in with the rich and powerful is important; later you will be asked to compare it to other depictions of him.
Which of the following best characterizes Hurstwood's relationship with alcohol?
Here the narrator is describing an inner moral compass. What do you rely on to help you make the right decision when faced with difficult choices?
Can you summarize Hurstwood's dilemma at this moment? What are his choices?
The map below gives you an idea of the route and distance from Chicago to Montreal. Why do you think Hurstwood is eager to get to Montreal? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is not true about Hurstwood by the end of this chapter?
Chapter 28 - A PILGRIM, AN OUTLAW—THE SPIRIT DETAINED
Hurstwood, now sober, seems to regret having taken the money. Is it likely he will return and give it back? Why or why not?
Carrie is clearly becoming suspicious. What is likely to be her first reaction when she learns that Hurstwood has lied to her once again?
Listen to the following train sounds; do you agree that they evoke sadness? (This annotation contains a video)
Carrie has an opportunity to tell the conductor that Hurstwood has taken her against her will. Why do you think she doesn't at this point? How does it contribute to the mood of the story?
Carrie seems to have a very difficult time taking action. Has she been like this throughout the novel, or is this new?
Which of the following adjectives best describes Carrie at this juncture?
Hurstwood has been totally self-absorbed in this chapter. What effect do you anticipate this having on his relationship with Carrie?
Chapter 29 - THE SOLACE OF TRAVEL—THE BOATS OF THE SEA
The opening paragraph of this chapter ___________ positive feelings for Carrie.
In what ways is Hurstwood's behavior childish?
The highlighted sentence contains _________ which help us appreciate Hurstwood's positive feelings.
During VIctorian times, hotels commonly had a separate entrance for women. One such entrance is pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
The man staring at Hurstwood is probably
Watch the following video about static and dynamic characters, and consider which one describes Hurstwood. Ask yourself this question periodically as you read about Hurstwood, Carrie, and other characters. (This annotation contains a video)
Does Hurstwood admit his wrongdoing, or does he see himself as a victim? What do you think will be the consequences of his thinking?
With this fake wedding, under a false name and while still married to his wife, Hurstwood deceives Carrie once again. Why do you think she believes him?
Which of the following themes is prevalent in this chapter?
Chapter 30 - THE KINGDOM OF GREATNESS—THE PILGRIM A DREAM
This book was published more than 100 years ago. Do you think New York still holds a special place among U.S. cities? Explain your thinking.
Reread the above paragraph and choose the sentence that best summarizes it.
This story was written (and is set) before the Prohibition Era, and social drinking was very popular, especially in clubs and taverns.
Can you name three factors that contribute to Hurstwood being unhappy with his new work?
Compare and contrast how the recent changes in their lives are affecting each of the two characters.
This final paragraph of the chapter suggests that
Chapter 31 - A PET OF GOOD FORTUNE—BROADWAY FLAUNTS ITS JOYS
What kind of "acquaintances" do you think Hurstwood is making? Since he is missing dinner and the evenings, it is quite likely that the author is hinting that Hurstwood is seeing other women.
Is Hurstwood's assessment of Carrie at this point realistic, or simply convenient for him? What informs your thinking about this?
How is Carrie's interest in a friendship with Mrs. Vance reminiscent of her relationship with Mrs. Hale in Chicago?
What do Carrie and Hurstwood's behavior around Mrs. Vance reveal about them?
While finding a recording of this song has been impossible, below you can see an image of a poster advertising it. Broadway continues to inspire visitors to New York and artists of all genres. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the novel's main themes is highlighted in this paragraph?
Chapter 32 - THE FEAST OF BELSHAZZAR—A SEER TO TRANSLATE
Later on, you can look back to this chapter and see that it marks a turning point for Carrie. Can you anticipate what will happen in the following chapters?
What is ailing Carrie?
The historic photograph below provides us with an idea of Sherry's elegance. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following is not part of Carrie's first impressions of Mr. Ames?
Near the beginning of the book, we saw a video about how characters develop. Think about how the author uses Mrs. Vance to help us understand Carrie better.
What is the author saying about Americans and food here? Paraphrase the highlighted text and think about examples from today's world.
Look up the word "oracle" in the highlighted sentence, and choose which statement below makes the most sense.
Very little is known today about author Albert Ross or his books mentioned in this conversation between Ames, the Vances, and Carrie. Why do you think the author weaves this into the conversation? What do the different comments reveal about each character?
Try to imagine Carrie's thoughts here. What do you think she is "beginning to see"?
Chapter 33 - WITHOUT THE WALLED CITY—THE SLOPE OF THE YEARS
What does the highlighted chapter title suggest about the upcoming events? Do you think positive or negative changes are in the air?
The narrator cites the Greek philosopher Epictetus, pictured below, who believed that events are governed by fate while individual people are responsible for their own futures. How do these ideas relate to our characters? (This annotation contains an image)
Carrie has many concerns weighing on her mind now. Which of the following is not among them?
Think back to the title of this chapter, and how it is reflected in this highlighted paragraph.
What can we infer from the way Shaughnessy speaks with Hurstwood?
Chapter 34 - THE GRIND OF THE MILLSTONES—A SAMPLE OF CHAFF
The author invokes the Biblical character Lazarus, a beggar who rose from the dead by means of divine intervention. Can you explain how this relates to Carrie? Below is an image of Lazarus being raised by Jesus Christ. (This annotation contains an image)
Which two kinds of figurative language are used in the highlighted text?
New York has long been a city of immigrants from many lands. What do you think of the way the author depicts this German and his language?
Are you surprised that Hurstwood pays attention to Carrie's feelings here? What do you think it means?
Note that Hurstwood has some hopefulness and "get-up-and-go," and pay attention to how this changes.
What challenge does Hurstwood face right now?
Of all the Shakespeare plays that the author could have mentioned, it is interesting that he chose "King Lear," a tragedy in which the main character falls from grace. If you have time to read it or watch a film adaptation, see how you think Hurstwood compares to Lear.
Chapter 35 - THE PASSING OF EFFORT—THE VISAGE OF CARE
Do you think the manager is being sincere with Hurstwood? Is he likely to really consider the latter's application? Why or why not?
Reading the newspapers seems to be the only source of joy in Hurstwood's life. Why do you think this activity appeals so much to him?
Which of the following contributes to the overall mood in this chapter?
Why is this encounter with an old acquaintance so difficult for Hurstwood? What do you imagine he is feeling?
Why doesn't Carrie want Hurstwood to know she has been crying?
As the main characters' lives and relationship change, pay attention to how the author changes the point of view, sometimes several times in a chapter. The following video will help you ponder this. (This annotation contains a video)
What are some examples of how Hurstwood is declining emotionally?
Chapter 36 - A GRIM RETROGRESSION—THE PHANTOM OF CHANCE
As usual, the chapter title gives us a clue about the content of the pages to follow. As you read this chapter, consider why Dreiser uses the phrase "phantom of chance."
Why is her relationship with Mrs. Vance important to Carrie?
Tammany refers both to a specific political organization as well as system of political control and favors that emerged in New York in the 1800s. Below is a photograph of the old building site associated with the organization. (This annotation contains an image)
Which word best describes the tone of this conversation between Carrie and Hurstwood?
Hurstwood admitting to Carrie that their marriage ceremony was a sham marks a major turning point in this novel. What do you anticipate as we approach the final third of the book?
What does the highlighted text tell us about Carrie's feelings? What does it portend for her future with Hurstwood?
Follow the link below to see a photo of the old Morton House. Can you see how the grandeur of the place helps Hurstwood ignore his troubles? (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following adjectives does not aptly describe Hurstwood at this stage of his life?
Chapter 37 - THE SPIRIT AWAKENS—NEW SEARCH FOR THE GATE
The meaning of the word "text" in the highlighted sentence is a good example of how language evolves. Here it means "pretext." Today it means something quite different most of the time.
Hurstwood discourages Carrie for several reasons. Which is probably the strongest for him?
Have you noticed how many references to famous buildings there are in this novel? The Grand Pacific was one of first luxury hotels built in Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871. (This annotation contains an image)
Look up the word "diffident" and think about the differences between Carrie's approach to her situation and Hurstwood's approach to his. What does this reveal about each of them?
Gender stereotypes and roles during Dreiser's time were much more rigid than they are today. What is the narrator implying here?
Which of the following statements best characterizes Carrie's experiences with the agents?
Given Hurstwood's recent gambling experiences, does it seem ironic that he should give Carrie this advice?
Chapter 38 - IN ELF LAND DISPORTING—THE GRIM WORLD WITHOUT
How does the highlighted text reflect gender stereotypes in general, and views towards women in particular?
Do you notice how Hurstwood thinks about himself in the third person here? How does it affect the mood and tone?
How does Carrie's job news impact Hurstwood?
Look up whatever words you need to in the highlighted text, and then decide if the manager's behavior is positive or negative for Carrie.
The photo below, of girls in a chorus line, allows us to better picture Carrie at work. (This annotation contains an image)
Given what we have learned about Carrie, what is the most likely impact that seeing the leading ladies will have on her?
Which of the following is least likely to occur in the following chapter?
Chapter 39 - OF LIGHTS AND OF SHADOWS—THE PARTING OF WORLDS
What does this chapter title suggest? Which or whose worlds are on the verge of parting?
Carrie's conversation with this workmate is significant for a few reasons. Can you think of at least two?
Are you noticing the friendliness and warmth that this co-worker extends to Carrie? This kind of solidarity is not uncommon, although not always present, among struggling workers.
Carrie's lie about her housing suggests that
Predict whether or not the passion seen between Carrie and Hurstwood is likely to reemerge in the following chapters.
From Hurstwood's perspective, which of the following words does not reflect Carrie's mindset and behavior these days?
New York City's Central Park, pictured below, was and is an oasis of calm in a busy city. (This annotation contains an image)
How does the memory of Ames influence Carrie's thinking and behavior?
Chapter 40 - A PUBLIC DISSENSION—A FINAL APPEAL
The tension between Carrie and Hurstwood continues to deepen. Try to appreciate how the author builds this aspect of the story.
Which two literary devices are present in the highlighted sentence?
The great trolley strike in Brooklyn at the close of the nineteenth century was one of the most important labor disputes of its time. See if the narrative gives you some clues about Dreiser's sympathies.
If you look up "scare-head" using the dictionary function, the correct definition for its use in the highlighted sentence does not appear. What do you think it could mean, given the context?
Do you remember the previous time Hurstwood's private thoughts were presented as a dialogue? How does this narrative style affect the story?
Why does Hurstwood go to Brooklyn?
Chapter 41 - THE STRIKE
The painting below, while not a precise depiction of the trolley workers, will give you an idea of the scene that Dreiser wants to create. What do you think would be difrerent if Dreiser had painted the piece? (This annotation contains an image)
What is the general mood among the workers at the train barn?
Does it seem odd or normal that Hurstwood hasn't given a moment's thought about food and shelter until it is time to deal with both? What can we infer about his mental state from this?
How do you imagine Hurstwood feels having to ask for a place to stay and admitting he has no money? Try to put yourself in his position.
Why do you think the author includes this dream about Hurstwood's former life here? What purpose does it serve in telling the story?
Which of the following does not seem to be contributing to Hurstwood's negative state of mind?
According to the Services Employees International Union's website, the word "scab," meaning a "despicable person," has been used to pejoratively describe a strikebreaker since the late eighteenth century.
Do you think that the simile used by Dreiser in the highlighted sentence is effective? What does it convey about the mood of the scene?
Violent battles between the police and striking workers, depicted in the photo below, are very commonplace during this era. What do you think of today when you hear of police violence? (This annotation contains an image)
What motivates Hurstwood to do this work?
Watch the following video on theme and consider how Dreiser this chapter about the strike complements and reinforces some of the themes in this book. (This annotation contains a video)
What has upset Hurstwood?
Chapter 42 - A TOUCH OF SPRING—THE EMPTY SHELL
Listen to the following musical piece, an adaptation of the Sister Carrie story, and then answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the musical piece we heard in the previous annotation prepare us for what is happening to Carrie in this scene? Does it capture the mood accurately?
Why might Hurstwood's presence at Carrie's show embarrass her?
What is the dramatic role of Lola in this book?
What does the highlighted text suggest about Carrie?
What are your impressions of Lola? How do Carrie's interactions with her affect the tone and mood of this chapter? How do they contrast with the scenes of Hurstwood with the trolley workers?
Do you imagine that Carrie's departure will push Hurstwood to action? Why or why not?
How does this image of Hurstwood relate to the chapter title "A Touch of Spring: An Empty Shell"?
Chapter 43 - THE WORLD TURNS FLATTERER—AN EYE IN THE DARK
What do the name "Katisha" and the title, "The Wives of Abdul," suggest about this work, and stereotypes about people from the Middle East and Asia?
Which of the following statements best captures Carrie's current situation?
Lola continues to be a supportive and helpful friend to Carrie; theirs is one of the true friendships of the novel.
What does the word "capital" mean in the highlighted passage?
If you are curious about what a newspaper looked like during the time of this novel, follow the link below to a Library of Congress page and check out any one of the editions of the "Evening World." (This annotation contains a link)
The highlighted sentences use ___________ to describe Carrie's good, new life.
Chapter 44 - AND THIS IS NOT ELF LAND—WHAT GOLD WILL NOT BUY
The image of Elfland appears periodically in literature. Follow the link to read a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson which contains a reference to this mythical place, and then answer a follow up question in a few pages. (This annotation contains a link)
How does the excerpted poem by Tennyson that you read in the last annotation reflect Carrie's new status? What might the second part of the chapter title forebode?
Think back to the previous places where Carrie dwelled, especially her sister's tiny apartment, and try to imagine her feelings as she and Lola view these rooms at the fancy hotel.
What does Mrs. Vance's renewed interest in Carrie suggest about the former neighbor?
Today, mash notes are likely to be replaced by phone texts. For more information about the origin of the term, check out the article below provided by Word Detective. (This annotation contains a link)
What is Carrie realizing through her recent experiences?
What might Dreiser be saying about fame and fortune? What are your opinions regarding this?
Chapter 45 - CURIOUS SHIFTS OF THE POOR
Why is Hurstwood horrified at the thought of begging? Are there prejudices against beggars in your community?
Are you noticing that Hurstwood seems less passive and more assertive than he has been? What do you think is causing this change?
Which recurring motif does Dreiser use to reinforce the mood of this chapter?
Once a respectable area, by the late 1800s the Bowery, in lower Manhattan, had become an area rife with poverty and street crime. Below is a photograph from that era. (This annotation contains an image)
What kind of figurative language does the author use to help us imagine the scene on Broadway?
This individual, "the soldier," is probably a representative of the Salvation Army, a Christian charity founded in England in the mid-1860s, with projects throughout the world today.
Use the dictionary feature to look up the word "fakir," and then choose the most likely reason for Hurstwood feeling doubtful.
While the photograph below is of men waiting on a breadline, the image gives us an idea of Hurstwood's surroundings right now. What questions would you like to ask these men? (This annotation contains an image)
Do you imagine that it is easier for Hurstwood to accept charity from this leader than it is to beg? Why or why not?
Has Hurstwood reached the end of his rope, or do you anticipate life getting even worse for him? Might it improve?
Chapter 46 - STIRRING TROUBLED WATERS
Carrie seems to be brushing off Drouet because
The Waldorf is still one of New York City's finest hotels, as you can see from the photo below. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Dreiser have Carrie meet up with both Drouet and Hurstwood in this penultimate chapter of the book?
Carrie has mixed feelings upon seeing Hurstwood now. Can you summarize what she is feeling and why?
Why is Carrie drawn to Ames?
We can only imagine which piece of music they are listening to. Below is a link to a part of Beethoven's "La Pathetique." Listen to a bit and decide if it fits the mood of this scene. (This annotation contains a video)
What kind of work does Ames encourage Carrie to pursue?
Why do Ames' words have such a profound effect on Carrie? What can we infer from the simile in the highlighted text?
Chapter 47 - THE WAY OF THE BEATEN—A HARP IN THE WIND
Which of the following is a recurrent theme in this novel?
Being in dire circumstances often leads people to become competitive with one another, instead of feeling solidarity with and supporting one another.
How does the author use the weather once again to reinforce the mood of this section?
Homelessness affects people in almost every community in the United States. To learn more about what you and your classmates can do, follow the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
What does Lola's reaction to the man falling suggest about her?
Why does Dreiser include this brief scene with Hurstwood's family? What effect does it have on the story?
What does the highlighted text suggest about the group of poor men?
What does Carrie's loneliness suggest about her life's goals?
Has Carrie achieved her dreams or is she still longing for something she doesn't have? Which part of the text informs your thinking?
How would you describe the closing tone of this novel? How does it leave you feeling?