Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 11

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 11

The Persuasion of Fashion: Feeling Guards o'er its Own

  • The narrator introduces us to some of the other occupants of the apartment building where Carrie and Drouet live: Mr. Frank Hale, the manager of a theater and his wife, Mrs. Hale, whom Carrie sometimes hangs out with. The Hales aren't rich, but Mrs. Hale sure wishes they were. The railroad treasurer's wife and her well-dressed, piano-playing daughter live across the hall.
  • One night, Carrie sits looking out her window and listens to the daughter play the piano; she starts feeling depressed. Drouet comes home and discovers Carrie sitting there crying. She obviously must be upset because she's been missing him, he thinks. So, completely misreading the situation, he suggests they waltz.
  • Carrie's not feeling it.
  • Then we hop back to that night at the end of the previous chapter, though instead of being in Carrie and Drouet's apartment, we're with Hurstwood in the cab. He's thinking about how great Carrie is and decides to send her flowers.
  • Fast forward a few weeks: Drouet returns from a business trip, and on his way back to the apartment he runs into a "lady acquaintance." He wastes no time inviting her to dinner—a dinner that lasts two and a half hours.
  • And who just happens to be at the very same restaurant? Yup—Hurstwood, whose first thought is to feel sorry for Carrie. Drouet can tell that Hurstwood pretends not to see him and he's already trying to concoct some explanation.
  • Soon after that night, Drouet shows up at Hurstwood's office. Hurstwood tells him right off the bat that he saw him at dinner that night, but Drouet plays it off by explaining that the lady was an old acquaintance who pressured him into dining together.
  • Hurstwood invites Drouet and Carrie to dinner. For the first time, Hurstwood begins to see Drouet as his competition, but he feels more than up to the challenge.
  • A few days later, Drouet finds Carrie primping in front of the mirror and accuses her of getting vain. Nevertheless, he tells her to get dressed and he'll take her to a show. But Carrie's already got plans with Mrs. Hale to go a fair and she's not about to cancel them, despite Drouet's protestations.
  • However, just then a letter arrives from Hurstwood inviting them to the theater that evening. Carrie suddenly has no qualms about ditching Mrs. Hale.
  • Drouet and Carrie meet Hurstwood in the theater lobby, and Carrie and Hurstwood flirt up a storm before the play starts. She is totally crushing on him and thinks about how Drouet totally pales in comparison.