Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 39

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 39

Of Lights and of Shadows: The Parting of Worlds

  • Carrie really wants to go shopping, and she begins thinking that if only she and Hurstwood didn't have to eat, she'd be the best-dressed woman in all of New York City. Hurstwood informs Carrie that he's officially broke (even though he secretly has set aside ten bucks to spend on himself), and she tells him to take money from her purse for groceries.
  • On her way into the theater, Carrie sees another chorus girl decked out in an awesome tweed suit and decides that she will for sure have to go shopping over the weekend.
  • We learn that Carrie's made a new friend in the chorus, Lola Osbourne, first referred to as "the blue-eyed soldier" because that's the part she has in the play. Lola tells her that they should try out for parts in another show because they're being underpaid.
  • Carrie buys shoes, which leaves her without enough for rent; she tells Hurstwood they're short. Hurstwood tells her not to worry—they can wait to pay the grocer. Carrie gets frustrated again that Hurstwood doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get a job, and she starts hanging out more often with Lola (who thinks Carrie's single) to avoid seeing him.
  • One night, Hurstwood asks her what she's been up to. Carrie resents his butting into her life, and things between them get even tenser.
  • One night at the theater, the manager decides to put Carrie at the head of the chorus line. The new position comes with a raise; she's now making eighteen bucks a week. She decides she's not to spend this money feeding Hurstwood—nope, she's off to the department store instead.
  • Carrie spends more than she anticipated during her shopping trip, so it's time to yet again face her money troubles with Hurstwood. She tells him that she just doesn't earn enough to pay all their expenses. Hurstwood's no dummy though, and has seen the clothes she's been buying lately. They argue and Carrie tells Hurstwood—yet again—that he needs to step up the job search. She feels a little bad (Hurstwood was on the verge of tears) afterward, so she cooks dinner for him.
  • But the good will doesn't last long, and she's quickly back to thinking that he shouldn't be freeloading. Carrie begins hanging out even more with Lola and some of her guy friends, and one day they invite her to go on a drive. One of the guys takes a liking to Carrie. She stays out so late that she ends up missing dinner with Hurstwood.
  • They end up going to a fancy restaurant and this reminds Carrie of Ames, whom she misses. They try to convince her to hang out with them some more, but she turns them down.