Consumerism And Sister Carrie

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The Theodore Dreiser novel Sister Carrie can be viewed from a critical standpoint as a critique of conspicuous consumerism which pervaded metropolitan Americans during the late nineteenth century. The central figure in the novel is one Carrie Meeber, an eighteen year old girl traveling to the big city of Chicago in order to experience life. A Wisconsin farm girl, Carrie dresses true to her ordinary circumstances. She wears a plain blue dress and old shoes, and observes a demure, lady-like disposition. She initially feels twinges of sadness at leaving her parents and her home but quickly puts those feelings aside in order to take in everything about her beginning adventure. Dreiser uses the image of the young impressionable woman fresh from the Plains as a model of America before the great rush of industrialist thinking. An America which prided itself on its work ethic and good sturdy morals, this new America which arrived courtesy of railways and an improved transportation system is sordid and miserable, fueled by the never ending desire to constantly be better. Carrie is a vehicle through which Dreiser is able to navigate through this new society and examine it, depicting the transition from innocence to reality, from unpolluted and wholesome to dirty and congested. In this new and supposedly improved America doing bigger and better is the only way to go and effects the way in which everyone in that society acts and in fact it can be argued that need is the major influence when it comes to the decisions made Carrie and most everyone in the novel . For example , Carrie ‘s fascination with Chicago is not the opportunity to spend more time with her sister or to explore the number of cultural things newly available to her , it is to have the chance to buy things and move up in the world . Her desire for material goods and the status that these things represent is

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