Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 42

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 42

A Touch of Spring: The Empty Shell

  • Hurstwood doesn't provide Carrie with the gory details of his involvement in the strike, and she assumes he quit the job out of laziness. While Hurstwood's been working, Carrie has managed to work her way up, and now has an entire line to say in the play she's acting in.
  • At home, Hurstwood goes back to rocking, reading the paper, and daydreaming about his old life.
  • Lola asks Carrie if she wants to move in together so they can both save money on rent (remember, she's still assuming Carrie's a single gal since she never says a word about Hurstwood), but Carrie tells her she isn't sure. Then Carrie gets an even better role in the play, which comes with a much bigger salary, so she decides to take Lola up on the offer to become roomies.
  • At the same time, Hurstwood suggests to Carrie that they should move to an even smaller place to save money. She can't even bear the thought though, and tells Lola that she's definitely up for moving in together. The two of them find a place.
  • With the move now only two days away, Carrie still hasn't told Hurstwood. She starts feeling a little sorry for him, so she gives him some money and asks him to go get food so she can cook them a nice dinner. When he comes back, the guilt-ridden Carrie tells him to keep the change. He thinks this is a little weird and starts to wonder if something's up.
  • Carrie goes to Lola's apartment and finds her packing; she asks to borrow twenty-five dollars that Lola had promised to lend her. Meanwhile, Hurstwood ventures out for a walk.
  • Warning: you may need some Kleenex for the next scene.
  • Hurstwood gets back a few hours later to an empty apartment and notices an envelope near his chair. Uh-oh. He opens it and finds twenty bucks and a note from Carrie. She's not coming back, but he should feel free to sell her furniture, she writes. Hurstwood sees that she's taken her clothes and belongings, and the whole place seems incredibly empty and lonely now. Sniff.
  • Hurstwood sits down in the rocker, but he can't even rock.