by Theodore Dreiser
Sister Carrie Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
[Money] was something that was power in itself. One of [Carrie's] order of mind would have been content to be cast away upon a desert island with a bundle of money, and only the long strain of starvation would have taught her that in some cases it could have no value. Even then she would have had no conception of the relative value of the thing; her one thought would, undoubtedly, have concerned the pity of having so much power and the inability to use it. (7.1)
Is Carrie really as dense about money as the narrator makes her out to be here? Or do her thoughts and actions in other parts of the novel actually support the narrator's remarks?
Curiously, she could not hold the money in her hand without feeling some relief. Even after all her depressing conclusions, she could sweep away all thought about the matter and then the twenty dollars seemed a wonderful and delightful thing. Ah, money, money, money! What a thing it was to have. How plenty of it would clear away all these troubles. (7.26)
Carrie just hit the jackpot. Does the fact that Carrie is given this money by Drouet influence her reaction to it?
Hurstwood's residence could scarcely be said to be infused with this home spirit […] There were soft rugs, rich, upholstered chairs and divans, a grand piano, a marble carving of some unknown Venus by some unknown artist, and a number of small bronze gathered from heaven knows where, but generally sold by the large furniture houses along with everything else which goes to make the 'perfectly appointed house.' (9.7)
It's pretty clear that this passage expresses a critique of excessive displays of wealth in that they fail to produce a warm "home spirit." But the repetition of the word unknown to describe the origins of those symbols of wealth on display here strengthens this critique even further, as it suggests the profound absence of meaning in these displays of wealth.