Saturday, January 14, 2012

Charles and George

I'm approaching the end of Theodore Dreiser's novel, "Sister Carrie", that I last wrote of in my entry of December 28th 2011.

As might have been expected, Charles Drouet, the travelling salesman and man-about-town, was able to persuade Carrie to live with him as a common-law wife, although people didn't use this term in 1889 for a "kept woman". "Mistress" was more like it. Being a "kept woman" isn't shocking today, but it was in the America of 1889.

For a while, Carrie was content with being "kept" because she didn't have to work, the flat was nice, and Charles gave her enough money for nice clothes and all of that. It made up for her not being in love with Charles but having to act as a wife towards him nonetheless.

When Carrie meets one of Charles's friends, George Hurstwood, who is manager of a men's club, she sees him as a superior man than Charles. George is older (in his forties), richer, suaver, and altogether more attractive to her than Charles. George, thinking Carrie attractive too, visits her at home when Charles is out of town on business. Then they have clandestine meetings when Charles comes back.

George falls madly in love with Carrie because she is so young and pretty and so different from his middle-aged and cynical wife, who he has come to hate. George asks Carrie to leave Charles and to marry him. Carrie likes this idea. Then she discovers he is married, and is shocked.

More next time...........

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