Sister Carrie By Theodore Dreiser Summary and Analysis Chapters 28-29

Summary

Hurstwood and Carrie board the Detroit train. When the train is out of Chicago Hurstwood admits that Drouet's injury was merely a ruse to get Carrie to go away with him. She makes an effort to get away from Hurstwood but his pleadings and explanations make her reconsider. She is drawn by his daring and power and is flattered by the thought that he has left Chicago to be with her. Carrie is once again struck by indecision, but decides in favor of Hurstwood when he offers to marry her.

From Detroit the couple continue in a sleeping car to Montreal, where they register in a hotel under the name of "G. W. Murdock and wife." In the lobby of the hotel Hurstwood experiences the first of a series of encounters with his past life in Chicago, a stockbroker named Mr. Kenny. The fear of being discovered causes him to decline Kenny's invitation to breakfast with him. Next he spies a man who seems to be a private detective and concludes that Montreal is too warm for him. He plans to move to New York because "its mysteries and possibilities of mystification" are "infinite."

Hurstwood reads the local papers, wherein is published an account of his misdeeds, and he regrets his terrible error. A knock at the door reveals a Chicago detective who threatens him with exposure and arrest if he does not return the money. Hurstwood corresponds with Fitzgerald and Moy, with the result that he repays $9,500 and keeps $1,300 as a "loan." Carrie, of course, is ignorant of the whole affair.

The couple are married illegally under the name of Wheeler, "by a Baptist minister, the first divine they found convenient." The newlyweds board the New York train and arrive the next morning. Carrie, who is beginning "to have a few opinions of her own," does not like New York after her first impression.

Analysis

After the theft, Hurstwood becomes a different man. He has lost his identity in the world of Chicago society. Without his managerial position, family, or property, he is simply another fugitive from the law, a creature driven by instinct and fantasy, haunted by misgivings. It seems a blow to Hurstwood that the detective who tracks him down is only of the "lowest stratum welcomed at the resort." He himself is a thief and a safecracker, or so the newspapers say. Reading his own description in the newspaper, Hurstwood realizes the nature of social injustice which sees only one side of a tragedy. The newspapers report only that he stole the money. How and why were only matters of indifferent speculation. All the complications which preceded the theft are unknown. "He was accused without being understood."

As the train rolls onward from Chicago, the relationship between Carrie and Hurstwood changes dramatically. Carrie realizes that she does not love the man, but sees in him the only way out of a desperate situation. No longer is she so fascinated by Hurstwood that she responds automatically to his every wish. She will have her way; she is nominally free to leave him if she wishes, yet she has the apparent security of marriage.

Throughout these chapters Dreiser repeats the idea that the very motion of travel has a deep psychological effect. The progress of the train is an important factor in Carrie's decision to remain with Hurstwood. "The speeding wheels and disappearing country put Chicago farther and farther behind." Dreiser opens Chapter 29, "The Solace of Travel: The Boats of the Sea," with a discussion of travel. To the untraveled, new places are fascinating. Travel "solaces and delights." New things and places to see are so fascinating that they cannot be neglected, and the mind, "which is a mere reflection of sensory impressions, succumbs to the flood of objects." One forgets lovers, puts aside sorrow, and suspends impending problems. Thus Carrie is fascinated by her entry into New York with its boats and highways, and especially the East River, "the first sign of the great sea."

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

At the end of her first day at the shoe factory job, Carrie admits she doesn't like it because




Quiz