Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 22

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 22

The Blaze of the Tinder: Flesh Wars with the Flesh

  • Mrs. Hurstwood is suspicious about her husband's newfound zest for life and the fact that he's not kowtowing to her desires as much as he had in the past.
  • Mrs. H scolds Jessica for being late for breakfast (Hurstwood himself has already left the house at this point) and for her general brattiness.
  • We jump back a bit and learn that a few days after Hurstwood and Carrie took that ride on the horse (the one where Hurstwood declared his love for Carrie), Hurstwood's neighbor Dr. Beale saw them. At the time, Dr. Beale mistook Carrie for Mrs. Hurstwood, so when he ran into Mrs. H later on, he mentioned that he saw her out riding with Mr. H. Now in light of Hurstwood's great mood, she's even more suspicious of that incident.
  • We catch up a little more with Mrs. Hurstwood and her suspicions. It seems the day after Carrie's theater debut, Mrs. H and Jessica went to the races where they ran into some acquaintances who'd been to the theater the previous evening… and they were so sorry to hear that poor Mrs. Hurstwood was too sick to accompany her husband. Oops.
  • With all of these suspicions swirling in her head, Mrs. Hurstwood is now on the warpath as we return to the present scene in which she's waiting for Hurstwood to get home.
  • Hurstwood arrives home in a fantastic mood, as he's still aglow from his meeting with Carrie.
  • His great mood really irks Mrs. H—he's so happy that he even tries to engage her in some pleasant conversation. She's not having it though, giving him curt little answers to every question he asks.
  • Hurstwood can tell something's up, but figures she's mad about the vacation stuff, so he tells her they can go early if she wants.
  • And then she drops the bomb that she suspects he's having an affair. He says he has no idea what she's talking about, and she tells him she wants the money for the vacation by the next morning.
  • The fight gets nastier, as Mrs. H rattles off all the evidence she has of his affair. He still denies it, so she tells him again that she wants the money. He says she won't get it, and she says she's getting a lawyer.
  • He tells her to do whatever she wants and he leaves.