Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 26

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 26

The Ambassador Fallen: A Search for the Gate

  • We pick up with Carrie who is right where we last left her: alone in the apartment right after Drouet stormed out. Having never seen him so upset, she's dumfounded.
  • Carrie climbs into the old rocking chair to think about her predicament. If Drouet never comes back, she knows she's not going to be able to stay in the apartment. She thinks about what a total jerk Hurstwood is, though she still has some attraction to him; most of all, she feels alone. She realizes she's starving and goes to the cupboard to get something to eat, and as she's munching, she starts to worry about her financial situation.
  • She checks her purse to see how much money she has. Only seven dollars? Ugh. She worries more. She's not sure whether she wants Drouet to come back or not.
  • Remember that day Carrie was supposed to meet Hurstwood in the park but never showed? Apparently, she goes looking for work instead of meeting up with him. But it rains (remember that little detail, too?) so she goes back home.
  • The next day she goes off to look for work again in the business district. As she wanders around, she thinks maybe she doesn't need to get a job right away after all. It's Saturday so everything's closing early anyway, and she might as well go to the park instead, she figures.
  • She hangs around the apartment for most of Sunday, thinking about how she should really try pursuing that acting thing she was so good at.
  • Bright and early Monday morning, she heads to the Chicago Opera House, but when she gets there she's so intimidated that she can't work up the courage to go inside. She tries a few other theaters, but chickens out with them too.
  • That night she hangs out with her old pal Mrs. Hale, but finds no comfort.
  • Carrie returns to the Chicago Opera House the next day. She makes more progress this time by telling the ticket-taker that she's interested in getting work in the theater. The ticket guy directs Carrie to the manager's office, who she nervously asks how she should go about getting on the stage. He and his entourage can barely contain their laughter at the naiveté of this girl; the manager humors her a little by advising her to try to become a chorus girl.
  • The manager invites her to lunch. Alarm bells go off in her head—she figures it's probably not her acting that he's interested in. She says that she has another engagement and he tells her to come back again sometime—he might have something for her.
  • She does end up going back to inquire about his offer, but by then he's resentful at having been brushed off by this little nobody, so he tells her he has nothing for her. He adds that she should go to New York City where there are more opportunities for beginners.
  • Carrie goes to another theater, but can't find anyone to talk to. On her way home she stops at the post office, and there it is: the letter Hurstwood had written her asking why she never showed that day.
  • She writes a letter that basically tells him off and mails it the next day. Then she goes downtown to look for work in department stores. No luck. She returns home to find out that Drouet's been back to get some of his stuff, and feels so lonely that she starts crying.
  • We learn that Drouet came back intending to use the old "I'm here to get my stuff" excuse as a way to see Carrie and get back together. When he saw she wasn't there though, he took his stuff and left.