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Sister Carrie

Jennie Gerhardt

a novel by Theodore Dreiser. It was first published in 1900 but not promoted by Double-day, on the grounds of its alleged immorality. It was reissued in 1912, the year after the publication of Jennie Gerhardt, although the unexpurgated edition of the novel did not appear until 1981. Caroline Meeber, the eponymous heroine, is a naïve girl from a country town who arrives in Chicago to stay with her sister and brother-in-law and look for employment. Only casual and low-paid factory work is available, and after an illness she suffers unemployment and depression. In this condition, she permits Charles Drouet, a travelling salesman, to make her his mistress but as her circumstances improve, so her regard for Drouet diminishes, and in his absence she becomes drawn to his friend George Hurstwood, an unhappily married manager of a popular restaurant. Hurstwood embezzles $10,000 from the company safe and tricks Carrie into eloping, first to Montreal and then to New York, where they run a saloon and live together for three years. He loses the saloon and, driven to desperate measures, becomes a strike-breaker attacked by striking trolley-workers. Meanwhile Carrie finds employment as a chorus-girl and attempts to support Hurstwood. She becomes increasingly successful as his condition deteriorates, and finally she leaves him. As her theatrical renown grows, so he falls victim to complete destitution and ultimately kills himself. However, Carrie's remarkable rise to fame and her material success do not prevent her from feeling the pain of isolation.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Lemn Sissay Biography to Southwold Suffolk