Study Guide

Sister Carrie Compassion and Forgiveness

By Theodore Dreiser

Compassion and Forgiveness

Compassion in Sister Carrie eventually becomes a matter of life and death; we might indeed argue that Hurstwood dies from a lack of compassion on the part of others. Characters' abilities (or inabilities, as the case may be) to sympathize with and show compassion for others are given quite a bit of emphasis throughout the novel. As the novel shows us, feeling compassion for others is often the easy part. Putting that feeling into action, however, is often a whole other matter.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Why doesn't Carrie sympathize with Hurstwood's failure to find a job considering she was in his exact same position earlier in the novel?
  2. Do the novel's depictions make readers sympathetic to the plight of the poor or not?
  3. What makes compassion difficult for characters in Sister Carrie?
  4. Should Carrie have done more to help the poverty-stricken Hurstwood?

Chew on This

The narrator doesn't show much compassion for the novel's characters.

Neither poor nor rich characters are very compassionate in Sister Carrie.