Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 7

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 7

The Lure of the Material: Beauty Speaks for Itself

  • Carrie is totally stoked about the money Drouet gave her. She feels a flicker of shame for being "weak enough" to accept it, but she rationalizes that she really needs it, so it's all good. Plus, Drouet is even more awesome than she'd originally thought for aiding a damsel in financial distress, she thinks.
  • Carrie gets home, looking like the cat who ate the canary, and concerned about how to buy new clothes without Minnie getting suspicious of where exactly she got the money to pay for them.
  • When Minnie asks about the job search, Carrie fibs and says that she has "the promise of something" at a department store.
  • This doesn't ease Minnie's mind and she hints to Carrie that maybe she'd better consider hightailing it home to Mom and Dad if the job doesn't pan out. The idea of doing that makes Carrie want to barf and she's even more grateful for Drouet's money.
  • She sits in the front room and mulls over the more immediate dilemma of how she's going to buy a jacket without provoking a million questions from Minnie. All this fretting puts her in a really bad mood.
  • While she's eating dinner, Carrie decides the only thing to do is to return the money to Drouet, so she resolves to do just that the next day, after she looks for work (check out Miss Responsible). But it's all very depressing and the only thing that helps ease the pain is holding the dollar bills in her hand.
  • She goes downtown to look for jobs in the morning, but she just can't seem to bring herself to apply for anything. While she's there, she may as well do a little browsing in the department store, right?
  • Bad idea. The girl is totally torturing herself, looking at all this stuff she wants but knows she shouldn't buy.
  • Miraculously, she leaves the store without touching the twenty bucks in her pocket and goes to meet up with Drouet. He's surprised to see that she's not decked out in a new jacket and shoes—she tells him she can't take the money, which he responds to by taking her to lunch at another fancy restaurant.
  • Over lunch, she explains that she can't take the money because her sister would start asking questions; she mentions she might have to go back to her parents' house. But Drouet's got a way better idea: he'll pay for her to rent a room. Plus, he'll take her on that shopping trip she deserves. (Did someone say sugar daddy?)
  • It's not a complete free ride he's offering, though; they both agree that it's best if she still tries to find a job. And so with just a little reservation on Carrie's part, off they go shopping and then apartment hunting.
  • Carrie returns to Minnie's place, and after another dinner during which Minnie and husband make it clear that an unemployed Carrie isn't going to be welcome in their home much longer, Carrie writes a note bidding them adieu. She tells Minnie she's off to hang out in her favorite spot downstairs, but we know where she's really going: to meet Drouet on the corner.