Study Guide

Sister Carrie Chapter 9

By Theodore Dreiser

Chapter 9

Convention's Own Tinder-Box: The Eye that is Green

  • Meet Hurstwood. Okay, yeah, we've technically already met the guy, but now we're going to follow him around for a while.
  • Hurstwood lives in a pretty swank, ten-room house; he's married with a son, George Jr., and daughter, Jessica. They're all waited on by servants who usually don't last long because Mrs. (Julia) Hurstwood is so hard to please. Despite having an enormous house filled with ridiculously fancy and expensive furniture, the Hurstwood home lacks spirit. Money can't buy everything‚Ķ
  • Hurstwood thinks his seventeen-year-old daughter Jessica is becoming kind of a spoiled brat, obsessed with trying to impress all the super-rich kids at her high school with her wardrobe (the Hurstwoods, we're told, are only kind of rich). For his part, George Jr. is hooked up with a good job in a real estate firm, but doesn't bother to pay his parents any rent.
  • Mrs. Hurstwood is kind of a wannabe. She doesn't really fit into the most elite social circles, which makes it all the more crucial that her kids are able to. She has high hopes that her husband will continue to climb the corporate ladder so she can reap the benefits of his money and power.
  • Warm and fuzzy family, right? Not.
  • It's dinnertime at the Hurstwood house. George Jr. announces his upcoming plans to visit a friend's fancy boat, and sister and mom are totally impressed. Hurstwood cuts out early, telling the others that he's headed downtown.
  • Hurstwood leaves and Jessica tells Mrs. Hurstwood that she's going to be in a play at school, which of course is going to require her to run out and buy a new outfit.
  • Apparently Jessica has recently hung out with the son of a soap manufacturer, and Mrs. Hurstwood is super psyched about this prospect.
  • We learn more about Hurstwood's attitudes towards his family. A scene is recounted from the past in which Hurstwood took a business trip during which it's hinted that he may have had an affair; Mrs. Hurstwood suspects he did, and ever since then she's been secretly retaliating by spending more of his money on clothes. Go team.