Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 6

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 6

The Machine and the Maiden: A Knight of To-day

  • Carrie returns to her sister's flat and reports to Minnie and Mr. Hanson that her new job stinks; unsurprisingly, they're not particularly sympathetic. This bums Carrie out further. She realizes Minnie and Mr. Hanson just don't get her, and that she's really starting to loathe life in their apartment.
  • Then it dawns on her that Drouet might disregard her warning and show up tonight. Oh, geez—What's she going do if that happens? She decides to preempt any trouble by hanging out again at "the foot of the stairs" (which seems like the main doorway of the apartment) in case he shows.
  • The minute she leaves, Minnie and her husband start talking about her. Mr. Hanson stresses how important it is for Carrie to keep her job at the factory, adding that she probably shouldn't be standing down by the door because "it doesn't look good." Meanwhile, Carrie enjoys checking out the street action downstairs.
  • Using the excuse that he's going out to get a loaf of bread, Hanson leaves the apartment. Yup—he's actually trying to spy on Carrie, but she knows it. And she doesn't like it.
  • Drouet's a no-show, so Carrie goes back upstairs and hits the hay.
  • Her second day at the factory is just about as bad as the first one, and Carrie gets yelled at by the foreman for going too slowly. She's still not fitting in with her new coworkers either, and really hates the "rude banter" between the girls and the guys; she is totally grossed out when one of the guys starts verbally harassing her.
  • Déjà vu time—life at Chez Hanson that night is so unbearable that Carrie returns to her favorite hang-out—that's right, the ever-exciting apartment doorway. This time though, she has a creepy encounter with a dude passing by on the street who seems to want to take her for a stroll. For once she's glad to return to the flat.
  • The rest of the work week follows suit with the first two days, and then—to add insult to injury—one morning it starts to rain and Carrie realizes she has no umbrella. But wait—it gets worse: Minnie lends Carrie a faded umbrella, and horrified, Carrie rushes to the department store to buy a more suitable one, which of course leads to a bicker-fest with Minnie.
  • A few nights later, Carrie forks over to Minnie the money she'd promised to pay for board (four whole dollars). Minnie feels a little guilty taking it, but pockets it anyway, and Carrie is left wondering how on earth she's going amuse herself with the two quarters she's got left. She gets snippy with Minnie and Hanson, telling them she's going out because she wants to see something, and as usual, they start talking about her the moment she leaves.
  • She ends up going to… you guessed it, the bottom of the stairs. But the next day, she ventures out to a park. She's not happy with that, though, because she realizes she hates her clothes. During the next few days at work, Carrie overhears girls chatting about how much of their paycheck they get to spend on themselves.
  • When Carrie goes home and complains to Minnie about needing winter clothes, Minnie is actually cool about it and tells her to keep more of her paycheck to spruce up her wardrobe.
  • Everything's coming up roses it seems… well, not quite.
  • Just as Carrie's about to go on her shopping spree, she catches a bad cold. She ends up so sick that she can't work for three days, which causes her to lose her job. Yikes.
  • And it's back to job hunting. This time things seem even worse, but on her fourth day, her luck takes a turn for the better. No, she doesn't get a job, silly…
  • She runs smack into Drouet. Suddenly she's all tingles and he's just as thrilled to see her; he invites her to lunch at a fancy restaurant.
  • Carrie's not sure what to order and is a little freaked out by the prices (seventy-five cents for chicken), but no worries—Drouet steps in to order for her.
  • Carrie fills him in on what she's been up to since arriving. She covers all the highlights, er, lowlights: working a miserable job and getting sick. Drouet is astonished to hear that she's been working in the shoe factory and assures her she's way too good to be working there.
  • The food rocks. And she and Drouet seem to have some major chemistry.
  • Drouet tries to convince her to abandon the job search. He has a much better idea about what she should be doing with her time: going to the theater with him tonight. But Carrie hesitates. Ah, Drouet sees what's going on: she needs money.
  • And that's where his wallet comes in. He hands her some cash and tells her to get some clothes. She protests a little at first, but… oh, those dollars in her hand feel so good (twenty bucks—a serious jackpot). He assures her it's just a loan, and then he suddenly turns psychic and tells her that he knows she doesn't want to live with her sister; he suggests that she come and meet him tomorrow to check out the matinee.
  • Carrie feels like her nightmare has just turned to a dream.