Sister Carrie By Theodore Dreiser Summary and Analysis Chapter 26

Summary

The focus of the narrative shifts back to Carrie sitting alone in her rocking chair after Drouet's departure. She realizes that he may never return and so begins to formulate plans for the future. Certainly she cannot go to Hurstwood for aid, for she is shocked by the "evidence of human depravity" she sees in the man.

Pausing for a bite of food, Carrie begins to wonder how much money she has left. She discovers she has but seven dollars; however, the rent has been paid to the end of the month. She must leave the apartment then, for she cannot go on living with Drouet even if he did return.

On the next day, Friday, Carrie sets out to find work, but she must return home because of the same rain that dampened Hurstwood's spirits. Carrie visits a few shops on Saturday morning, discovering how her new appearance causes the men of business to be much more polite than they had been the previous winter. Nevertheless, she is determined not to take advantage of special favors and gives up the search for the time being.

Remembering Drouet's advice about going on the stage, she arises Monday morning and begins the round of theaters, looking for a small part. She meets two troupe managers, both of whom advise her that she must seek theatrical work in New York. That afternoon she drafts a letter to Hurstwood, telling him, "You have caused me more misery than you can think. I hope you will get over your infatuation for me. We must not meet any more."

The next morning she mails the letter and begins in vain to seek employment in the large department stores. While she is out, Drouet returns to make amends, but finding the apartment empty, he leaves. He does plan to return soon, however.

Analysis

Carrie's search for a part in the theater is reminiscent of her earlier search for a factory job. The world of the theater is perhaps more hostile because the men she speaks to take liberties with her that the shop men would not dare. To the shop men she was a commodity; to the theater managers she is a toy or a source of low amusement.

Carrie's position is in many ways worse than it had been when she first came to the city. Then, there was always the opportunity to return to Columbia City or to seek momentary refuge with the Hansons. Now she can do neither. Her fascination and awe for the world of the theater is much greater than was her attraction to the business world. It seems foolhardy to her to think of trying the large theater companies. "Her spirits were materially reduced, owing to the newly restored sense of magnitude of the great interests and the insignificance of her claims upon society, such as she understood them to be."

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