In addition to the four central characters who have the strongest effect upon and among one another, there are several who are in various ways instrumental in shaping conditions or events in the novel or who in some way serve as parallel or contrasting figures. Carrie's sister Minnie is a dull prig, staid and solemnly adapted to her situation. Phlegmatic Minnie stands in opposition to all of Carrie's ambitions and dreams. As Carrie becomes more able to adapt, Drouet and eventually Hurstwood take the place of Minnie in epitomizing a fate she must avoid.
Hurstwood's children, Jessica and George, Jr., serve as parallel figures to Carrie and Drouet. Because they had the good fortune of being born well off, however, George, Jr., and Jessica are indifferent to the plight of anyone else and are insufferably snobbish. But like Carrie they are greedy for wealth and status.
Carrie's social mentors, Mrs. Hale in Chicago and Mrs. Vance in New York, lead her to discover a host of detailed refinements concerning dress and demeanor that augment a woman's charm. They play their part in opening the girl's eyes to the decorum of those above her on the social ladder. Along with Drouet, Mrs. Hale prepares Carrie to catch Hurstwood's notice. Later on, Mrs. Vance coaches Carrie further, making her able to continue without Hurstwood.
Lola Osborne, eager and callow, lacks the drive or boldness to abandon herself to fortune. Unlike Carrie, Lola has taken the short route directly from home to the theater, and so she has neglected to provide herself with the "emotional greatness" that Carrie has found in life's experience. Lola replaces Hurstwood when he is no longer fit to offer constant praise to Carrie.
Bob Ames, finally, combining vitality and mature wisdom, or so it seems to Carrie, serves as direct contrast to both Drouet and Hurstwood. He appeals to Carrie because he never appears to be in open pursuit of her and because he seems to have found the proper balance of personality and action. Actually, however, Ames is the third man in Carrie's life who seems to hold the key to happiness. The reader should be somewhat wary of Ames when he points out to Carrie "a farther step," the possibility of a career in straight dramatic roles instead of musicals and comedies.