Study Guide

Sister Carrie Ambition

By Theodore Dreiser


Carrie has lots of related ambitions in Sister Carrie: to get rich, to get really rich, to be a famous actress, and to be a really famous actress. For Carrie, there's always some other goal to reach that is going to be the thing that brings her perfect happiness. But instead, this kind of thinking becomes the perfect recipe for unhappiness. For other characters like Hurstwood, economic conditions tend to squash ambitions like flies. As readers, it's easy to come away from this book wondering if having ambition is really all it's cracked up to be.

Questions About Ambition

  1. What motivates Carrie's ambition to become an actress?
  2. Why doesn't achieving her goals make Carrie happy?
  3. Does the novel suggest that Hurstwood tries hard enough in his job search at the end of the novel?

Chew on This

In Sister Carrie, being in love (or lust, at least) is good for achieving one's ambitions.

Working to reach one's goals in Sister Carrie is a big waste of time.