Sister Carrie

904 Words2 Pages

I think it is very difficult to define the exact character of Dreiser’s "Sister Carrie", and his original intention. I would say, "as many eyes, so many opinions", so no wonder there are different approaches and interpretations towards the novel which is influenced not just by the reader’s reading or personal experience, but also by their particular philosophy of life as well as knowledge about the historical background. "Sister Carrie" can be read as a novel of desire, seduction, or the critique of capitalism and consumerism. It’s definitely not the plot or characters which are dominant elements of it. The taste and the literary value of Dreiser’s novel is shaped and created by its setting and the author’s tone. Chicago and New York have almost as organic and important role in the novel as the characters. They do not just form the simple environment for the novel, but they influence its character and a very strong impression. Chicago’s character is kind of more "positive", it is a city of promise, luck, rise (Carrie). We can say that in Chicago, Hurtswood means something. New York ‘s character is different. It’s a city of lies, fall, impersonal isolation of "walled city where surviving is much more difficult than in Chicago. In New York, Hurstwood means nothing. The setting creates different expectations to people. During the reading of "Sister Carrie", I was interested in searching and revealing the different kinds of desire. Generally we can say that Dreiser deals with the desire of wealth, social status, material things which are represented by money. Within this generalization, we can find and identify many other faces and forms of lust and longing. Carrie, as an ambitious and strong woman embodies the social values of the consumer culture. All she longs for is a material wealth, which represents power. She can be seen as a symbol of money. But Carrie lives in a world of prices. Her labor costs $4.50; board $4 a week; car fare $.60; cheap lunch $.10; etc. She imitates everything perfectly and that’s why she is becoming what people want her to become. Her desires come from other people’s desires. It is exactly Drouet, who introduces her to the world of wealth, to materialism. He gives her money, flat even "name when she enters the world of theater. She plays her role according to Drouet’s desires – once acts as his mistress or "wife".

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