Friday, November 04, 2005

Sister Carrie (cont.)

Well, hello again, and this will be "part two" of my very quick summary of "what happens" in Sister Carrie. After the summary, I want to make some comments.

My last post introduced the relationship between Carrie and Mr. Drouett. (Oh, importantly, I have to report that I had to take my copy of Carrie back to the library. So, my summary here is from memory. A few details may escape me...) Carrie and Drouett's was an important "friendship." But even more important is the relationship between Carrie and George Hurstwood.

George is Drouett's friend. Actually, George is friends with many people, many important people in Chicago. George is a playah. He manages a cool bar - referred to as a "resort", by Dreiser - called Hannah & Hoggs, a place well known to many of Chicago's movers and shakers. This place, actually this placement of George is important. It defines him and the form given to him by his standing as the manager is critical. Later he abandons his post with H & Hs when he and Carrie flee to Montreal and then New York City. George never recovers.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Drouett introduces George and Carrie, who casts a spell over George. Carrie is mildly interested. George thinks that Carrie and Drouett are married. That's one difficulty. Another is the fact that George is married; but this is not a happy example of "'til death do us part." In fact, George abandons his spouse, family, job, reputation, connections, everything he has, to run off with Carrie, whom he almost kidnaps in the night, under the pretense that Drouett is ill. Oh, and there is also a crime committed. In a series of great scenes George tricks Carrie and they leave Chicago, eventually residing in New York City. Once there, do they live happily ever after? Yeah, right. They do okay for a few years, i.e., George does OK. Carrie mostly sits around. But then George's business is sold and his life starts a downward spiral. He never recovers. Carrie has to find work. She gets a series of small parts in various theatrical productions. This modest start becomes the opportunity for her to pull herself up by her bootstraps, kind of a Horatio Alger success. She goes to the top; George sinks.

Well, dear reader, if you've read Sister Carrie, please pardon this brief summary that has left out all of Dreiser's masterful characterization, dynamics, psychology, tension, friendships, commentary, history and insight. I only present it in order to make a few comments on this remarkable tale of people and cities and work and economics and the way it was in 1900.

So where are the comments? Next post.

Very quickly, I have to return to the book of short stories that I referenced a few postings ago. I'm still reading it. Again, they are OK, not the best, not the worst. I'm going to try to finish them. Why, you ask? Don't have an answer for that.

Have a good weekend!


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