Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sister Carrie


Theodore Dreiser 1871-1945

I had to read Sister Carrie for my Gilded Age in America class in the Spring of 2006. It fit very well into the themes established in the class such as: the transition from rural to urban, the male bachelor subculture, female/male relations, the vital importance of money, the divisions in class, labor issues, the breakdown of family bonds and male conquest. When you get down to it this is the quintessential Gilded Age book. It contains lots of fun literary devices and wry comments from the narrator. There are some problems, however. It is sometimes painful to listen to the narrator speak for Carrie. He can be sexist, generalizing what all women should feel. There is something off-putting about his voice. The end of the book is ponderous and slow.
Carrie Meeber is the main character of the story, a small town girl to whom we are introduced on a train on the way to Chicago. The use of a machine taking an innocent girl from the nourishing country to the corrupting city is an apt way to begin the tale. Carrie is intrigued by the world of wealth and society. She accomplishes social gain by becoming a kept woman, quite a damning state of affairs around the turn of the century. The fact that Carrie's options are so incredibly limited (work for a pittance, marry a poor man, return home, or have an affair) is an indictment of the gender situation at the time. She and her lover, Hurstwood, have a whirlwind affair that takes them around the country, into and out of good situations, and finally to disaster.
Hurstwood is a respected bar manager at a high class place in Chicago. He leaves his family and his job because he is obsessed with Carrie, a lover of his friend. His desperation is a powerful force in the book. He completely breaks through all cultural restraints by stealing money from his bar and spiriting Carrie out of town. His life spirals downward as the travel through Montreal and New York where he finds a job in another bar. Eventually though, he is thrown out of work and becomes destitute. Carrie fulfills her dream of becoming a stage star (reminiscent of Nana by Emile Zola). The couple does not stay together, but their tortured thoughts go on. The late introduction of the enigmatic Ames makes for a confusing ending.
Carrie herself is a tough character to get a grasp on. She is subdued most of the time. For some reason I never got a clear picture of her in my head. She also never seemed happy. Since people are always using Carrie for their own purpose she has good reason to be sad.
My favorite part of Sister Carrie is the portrayal of the cities. Dreiser's realistic style is especially suited to conjuring the essence of the metropolises. Chicago, a rapidly developing city, has streets that run to nowhere. The grid is ready before the houses, businesses or people are. The upper class know each other well. The poor classes toil endlessly and earn nothing. When Carrie lives with her sister and the grey, depressed Sven the oppression of the city is palpable. New York, with the glitter of Delmonico's, Sherry's, and the theaters. The final message from in Sister Carrie comes from Carrie herself. She's found the wealth, fame, and achievement she's alway desired, but she can't help but feel terrible for the working and non-working poor (including her ex-lover Hurstwood). She just wishes she could do something about it, but she can't figure out a way to help.
This was Dreiser's first book. Quite an achievement. It was written in 1900 but got little publicity because of the controversial subject matter. Dreiser's success did not come until later.

Quotes and Main Themes
-About Hurstwood, "Bigamy lightened the horizen of his shadowy thoughts for a moment."
-Drouet to Carrie, "Be natural."
-After Hurstwood is ruined, "Hurstwood sat there, a perfect load to contemplate."

Rating: 7/10 This book has its pros and cons. The realistic tone is a departure from earlier American novels. Dreiser's strengths are his vivid descriptions of cities and his ability to relate the feeling of the time. The Gilded Age is a favorite time period of mine, so this book was an illuminating experience for me. Yet Dreiser's long-winded prose can get irritating.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do You interesting how to [b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b]? You can find below...
[size=10]>>>[url=http://listita.info/go.php?sid=1][b]Buy Viagra in Canada[/b][/url]<<<[/size]

[URL=http://imgwebsearch.com/30269/link/buy%20viagra/1_valentine3.html][IMG]http://imgwebsearch.com/30269/img0/buy%20viagra/1_valentine3.png[/IMG][/URL]
[URL=http://imgwebsearch.com/30269/link/buy%20viagra/3_headsex1.html][IMG]http://imgwebsearch.com/30269/img0/buy%20viagra/3_headsex1.png[/IMG][/URL]
[b]Bonus Policy[/b]
Order 3 or more products and get free Regular Airmail shipping!
Free Regular Airmail shipping for orders starting with $200.00!

Free insurance (guaranteed reshipment if delivery failed) for orders starting with $300.00!
[b]Description[/b]

Generic Viagra (sildenafil citrate; brand names include: Aphrodil / Edegra / Erasmo / Penegra / Revatio / Supra / Zwagra) is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction regardless of the cause or duration of the problem or the age of the patient.
Sildenafil Citrate is the active ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men. It can help men who have erectile dysfunction get and sustain an erection when they are sexually excited.
Generic Viagra is manufactured in accordance with World Health Organization standards and guidelines (WHO-GMP). Also you can find on our sites.
Generic Viagra is made with thorough reverse engineering for the sildenafil citrate molecule - a totally different process of making sildenafil and its reaction. That is why it takes effect in 15 minutes compared to other drugs which take 30-40 minutes to take effect.
[b][/b]
Even in the most sexually liberated and self-satisfied of nations, many people still yearn to burn more, to feel ready for bedding no matter what the clock says and to desire their partner of 23 years as much as they did when their love was brand new.
The market is saturated with books on how to revive a flagging libido or spice up monotonous sex, and sex therapists say “lack of desire” is one of the most common complaints they hear from patients, particularly women.

Anonymous said...

topic64, [url=http://snp.wustl.edu/]order viagra online[/url], bxbs6, [url=http://www.abacon.com/lefton/virtual.html]buy diazepam without prescription[/url], lbei3, [url=http://www.abacon.com/lefton/flinks.html]order zolpidem[/url]

Anonymous said...

Message42, http://www.arlo.net/massacree/ viagra online, ijzl4, http://www.arlo.net/fccgb/ viagra without prescriptions, ymqe5, http://www.arlo.net/fccgb/notes/ buy generic viagra, itay5, http://www.arlo.net/bytes/ cheap viagra online, diko5, http://www.arlo.net/live/ viagra for sale

Anonymous said...

[url=http://loveepicentre.com/testimonials.php][img]http://loveepicentre.com/uploades/photos/5.jpg[/img][/url]
dating first kiss time [url=http://loveepicentre.com/]us based foriegn dating[/url] dating site for horse lovers
the dating area tda [url=http://loveepicentre.com/testimonials.php]proffesional men dating madison[/url] free dating in riverside ca
mountain dating website [url=http://loveepicentre.com]gay twinks dating video[/url] wild sex coed dating

Anonymous said...

slide show via email free software http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/it/product-36246/Fibonacci-Lines-Analyzer-1-1 mg software [url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/es/product-35979/Altostorm-Panorama-Corrector-2-0-for-Adobe-Photoshop]broadbund movie editor software[/url] windows xp pro software dealers
[url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/product-13788/Readiris-Pro-9-Mac]Readiris Pro 9 [Mac] - Cheap Legal OEM Software, Software Sale, Download OEM[/url] act gps software
[url=http://buysoftwareonline.co.uk/product-37190/Color7-Video-Convert-Premier-8-0][img]http://buyoem.co.uk/image/1.gif[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

[url=http://onlinemedistore.com/products/lamisil.htm][img]http://onlinemedistore.com/6.jpg[/img][/url]
coalition for community pharmacy http://onlinemedistore.com/categories/hypnotherapy.htm discount pharmacy online [url=http://onlinemedistore.com/products/synthroid.htm]tesco pharmacy[/url]
msc pharmacy in germany http://onlinemedistore.com/products/diclofenac.htm number of pharmacy colleges in the united states [url=http://onlinemedistore.com/products/zestril.htm]zestril[/url]
malouf pharmacy travel competition http://onlinemedistore.com/products/xtz--energy-booster-.htm walmart pharmacy generics [url=http://onlinemedistore.com/products/lopressor.htm]international jobs canada pharmacy[/url]
missouri board of pharmacy http://onlinemedistore.com/products/lopid.htm circleville pharmacy ohio [url=http://onlinemedistore.com/products/brand-amoxil.htm]brand amoxil[/url]