Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 38

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 38

In Elf Land Disporting: The Grim World Without

  • Carrie has no luck in meeting with either Mr. Gray or Mr. Daly, two managers who will meet only by appointment. She tries a few more theaters, but gets discouraged and goes home.
  • A few days later, she manages to meet with the manager of the Casino, a theater on Broadway, who tells her to come back the following week when he might have something for her. That seems a long time away and rent will be due soon so she badgers Hurstwood about looking for a job. Hurstwood sets off to try to get a job as a bartender (that job he couldn't bear to take before, remember?), but gives up the search pretty quickly and goes back home.
  • The next week, Carrie goes back to see the manager of the Casino. He checks her out and tells her to come the next morning. Something in his voice sounds promising to her and she's thrilled at the thought that she's finally gotten somewhere. Carrie tells Hurstwood she's gotten a place in the chorus (way to count chickens before they hatch). They're both excited that she'll be bringing in twelve or fourteen bucks a week, by Carrie's estimates, so they have a nice steak dinner to celebrate. Hurstwood even shaves.
  • Carrie goes to the theater the next morning and "was given a place in the line." Okay, so the counting chickens thing actually worked out this time. The manager asks her name and she tells him Carrie Madenda, the name Drouet gave her way back when.
  • The manager pairs Carrie with another chorus girl and the rehearsal begins. It's much different, Carrie finds, than the rehearsals of her previous experience back in Chicago. The manager is tougher than an army sergeant and he insults Carrie's dancing, though she doesn't seem to mind since she's so excited to be there.
  • Carrie goes home and Hurstwood isn't there. She practices her dance moves until he gets back. She's a little irked that she has to stop practicing to make dinner, and she decides that she's not going to do that for long—he can order take-out from now on.
  • As rehearsals go on, Carrie realizes that being a chorus girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and she feels like a total nobody in comparison to the stars of the show. Things aren't great on the home front either, as Carrie is really beginning to resent the way that Hurstwood is sponging off her.
  • Hurstwood tells her that they need to save the money she's earning because his savings is really dwindling. But she has other plans… like a shopping spree.
  • Carrie's NYC debut rolls around, but it's not incredibly exciting for her since none of the advertisements seem to highlight her role in the chorus. Hurstwood doesn't even go to see her because they figure it'd be a waste of money since her part is so tiny.
  • During the show, Carrie observes that she could probably perform just as well as some of the big stars.
  • At home, Carrie asks Hurstwood about that job he has lined up. He says that he thinks it will still work out, but not for another month; he asks if she'd mind supporting them until then. She's annoyed, but agrees to help him out, and he promises he'll try to get some work.
  • And then he goes back to reading the paper.