Sister Carrie

Discribe the city of New York as portrayed by Dreiser in the novel Sister Carrie

essay type

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

Carrie's time in New York is the epitome of an impersonal modern experience. Chicago was a large city, but it was more affordable, easier to maneuver, and she had friends.

Dreiser's description of New York is detailed and accompanied by Carrie's experience there. He portrays a city filled with people, but also focuses on the isolation of individuals. His proof being that even in a city teeming with people and an apartment building filled with families, it took Carrie two years to find a friend.

Dreiser's New York is a bustling metropolis. Buildings are springing up everywhere, street cars have replaced horse and buggies, workers are involved in strikes, and streets are filled with stores and fine wares, ''great plate glass windows'' filled with ''silk, woolens, lingerie and fine feathers.''

Carrie's work as an actress also garners us a view of Broadway. She marvels at how Broadway Avenue is the center of "show" for the beautiful and rich ladies of the time. “Every fine lady must be in the crowd on Broadway in the afternoon” (309). She also cites how important it is to be seen on the avenue during "peek" time (being fashionable depends on it).

Carrie is also described as being extremely appreciative of 5th Avenue; it shops and restaurants. She's taken to Sherry's for dinner and gushes over the wait staff and beautiful china. Carrie also explores the city on foot, walking through its "sprawl" of avenues, fields of railway tracks, and around areas filled with factory buildings.

Carrie and Hurstwood spend some time after their arrival in New York searching for a flat. An acceptable apartment is eventually found at “Seventy-eighth Street near Amsterdam Avenue” (p.283). We're given a short description of the flat, but what stood out most for me was the novel's mention of “speaking tubes." I remember reading this novel in college and thinking, "what's a speaking tube and why in Carrie impressed by this amenity?" Well, the tubes were cones for a listener and speaker is a household, usually used to communicate room to room, or to call the wait staff.

Hope this helps you a bit!


Sister Carrie