by Theodore Dreiser
Sister Carrie Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse. Of an intermediate balance, under the circumstances, there is no possibility. (1.3)
Ah, well, at least we find out early that our narrator views women as such passive beings and in such majorly black-and-white terms. This narrator is going to have plenty of opinions about women, and such a provocative statement as this gives us a taste of them right from the get go. Brace yourselves, feminists.
A woman should some day write the complete philosophy of clothes. No matter how young, it is one of the things she wholly comprehends. (1.17)
"No matter how young"? Really? This quote implies that baby girls come straight from the womb equipped with knowledge about how to spot a fake Prada purse. Any problem with that line of thinking?
In the interval which marked the preparation of the meal Carrie found time to study the flat. She had some slight gift of observation and that sense, so rich in every woman—intuition. (2.5)
This kind of sounds like a compliment at first, right? Carrie, like "every woman," is blessed with observation and intuition. Of course, it's dangerous to generalize about any group of people, even when attributing positive qualities to them. This is especially true in the late nineteenth century, when associating women with emotional aspects of life like intuition could be a way of implicitly saying they lacked rationality and therefore weren't fit for participating in political life.