Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser will be the next book discussed at the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association’s Literary Society meeting.
In the novel, a young woman takes the train to Chicago in search of work in 1889, thus setting in motion a chain of events that will lead her to fame and fortune in New York’s glittering theater world. While the plot of Sister Carrie may sound like a fairy tale, Dreiser was actually trying to write a work of literary realism. He filled the pages of the novel, first published in 1900, with the harsh details of everyday life and generated controversy for the veiled but potent depiction of Carrie’s sexual experiences with the dapper traveling salesman and the “respectable” saloon manager, who both try to seduce her.
The story of Dreiser’s Carrie resembles that of the melodramatic “damsel in distress,” especially when she realizes that sin may be her only option for survival. And yet there was one aspect of melodrama that Dreiser purposely left out of Sister Carrie: Carrie neither agonizes over her choices, nor expresses regret for her actions. In fact, at times it seems she is not even aware that she is acting badly. Dreiser emphasizes that Carrie acts as she does simply because she wants to be comfortable. Perhaps even more scandalously, Dreiser’s novel implies that most people, if faced with the same choices Carrie faces, would do exactly the same.
The Literary Society will discuss Sister Carrie at 7pm on Tuesday, August 11 at the Richard Goad Theatre, 4250 Atlantic Ave. Parking available along Atlantic and on Burlinghall Avenue. Refreshments will be provided.