Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sister Carrie

I've begun reading "Sister Carrie" by Theodore Dreiser. Sister Carrie herself is Caroline Weeber who was living in Columbia City, that would appear to been, and perhaps still is, a satellite town of Chicago.

Caroline, in August 1889, was eighteen years old, and had now reached the age when she could leave home and seek work. Chicago was the city to go to, not only because that's where the jobs were, but because Caroline's older sister, Minnie, lived in Chicago in a flat with her husband, Sven, and their young child. Minnie and Sven had said that Caroline could live with them, but would have to pay them rent.

While on the train to Chicago, Caroline gets into conversation with a young man, Chas. Drouet, a salesman, and a man-about-town. Chas is able to persuade Caroline to give him the address of her sister's (Minnie's) flat, and tells Caroline he'll come to visit her next Monday evening.

Minnie is at the station to meet Caroline. They go to the flat where Caroline meets Sven - American-born and of Swedish descent - and the child. The next day Caroline goes job hunting, and finds a job on an assembly-line in a shoe factory, for $4.50 a week.

That doesn't sound like much now, but it probably wasn't too bad then, in 1899. And, here's the thing, Caroline landed this job on her first day of looking for work, despite that she had no work experience. This was the second job that Caroline had got that day. Earlier in that day, she had got a job as a stitcher of clothing, but for only $3.50 a week. She decided not to turn up for that job because of the other better-paid job - the $4.50 a week one.

Caroline found her first day on the job to be exhausting. But she got through it. That's all I'll say today.

It feels good to be again writing on this blog after being away from it more than six years. I feel an affection for it, since it was here that I began my blogging career. I've come back to the place where I started, and feel I know it for the first time.

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