Study Guide

Sister Carrie Wealth

By Theodore Dreiser


Money is magic in the world of Sister Carrie, especially for Carrie herself. Her love affair with money is way more passionate than any of her relationships with the novel's men. While we see plenty evidence of wealth in the novel—fancy clothes and big mansions—what's even more apparent is Carrie's desire to be rich. And Carrie isn't the only one. Characters' desires to become wealthy or to maintain wealth often lead straight to Trouble… and, yes, that's trouble with a capital T.

Questions About Wealth

  1. Characters that are all about becoming rich, like Carrie, don't end up happy. But characters that have no such desires, like the Hansons, seem pretty miserable too. What's going on there?
  2. How do other characters influence Carrie's obsession with material wealth?
  3. Are Ames's views on wealth convincing? Why do they seem to have such an effect on Carrie?
  4. Was Carrie better off before she got rich?

Chew on This

Sister Carrie is a scathing critique of wealth and conspicuous consumption.

Sister Carrie isn't all that critical of wealth; in fact, the novel makes it look pretty sweet.