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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Chapter VIII

Among the forces which sweep and play throughout the universe,
untutored man is but a wisp in the wind. Our civilisation is still in
a middle stage, scarcely beast, in that it is no longer wholly
guided by instinct; scarcely human, in that it is not yet wholly
guided by reason. On the tiger no responsibility rests. We see him
aligned by nature with the forces of life-he is born into their
keeping and without thought he is protected. We see man far
removed from the lairs of the jungles, his innate instincts dulled
by too near an approach to free-will, his free-will not sufficiently
developed to replace his instincts and afford him perfect guidance.
He is becoming too wise to hearken always to instincts and
desires; he is still too weak to always prevail against them. As a
beast, the forces of life aligned him with them; as a man, he has
not yet wholly learned to align himself with the forces. In this
intermediate stage he wavers-neither drawn in harmony with
nature by his instincts nor yet wisely putting himself into harmony
by his own free-will. He is even as a wisp in the wind, moved by
every breath of passion, acting now by his will and now by his
instincts, erring with one, only to retrieve by the other, falling by
one, only to rise by the other-a creature of incalculable variability.
We have the consolation of knowing that evolution is ever in
action, that the ideal is a light that cannot fail. He will not forever
balance thus between good and evil. When

this jangle of free-will and instinct shall have been adjusted, when
perfect under-standing has given the former the power to replace
the latter entirely, man will no longer vary. The needle of
understanding will yet point steadfast and unwavering to the
distant pole of truth.

In Carrie-as in how many of our worldlings do they not?- instinct
and reason, desire and understanding, were at war for the mastery.
She followed whither her craving led. She was as yet more drawn
than she drew.

When Minnie found the note next morning, after a night of
mingled wonder and anxiety, which was not exactly touched by
yearning, sorrow, or love, she exclaimed: "Well, what do you
think of that?"

"What?" said Hanson.

"Sister Carrie has gone to live somewhere else."

Hanson jumped out of bed with more celerity than he usually
displayed and looked at the note. The only indication of his
thoughts came in the form of a little clicking sound made by his
tongue; the sound some people make when they wish to urge on a

"Where do you suppose she’s gone to?" said Minnie, thoroughly

"I don’t know," a touch of cynicism lighting his eye. "Now she
has gone and done it."

Minnie moved her head in a puzzled way.

"Oh, oh," she said, "she doesn’t know what she has done."

"Well," said Hanson, after a while, sticking his hands out before
him, "what can you do?"

Minnie’s womanly nature was higher than this. She figured the
possibilities in such cases.

"Oh," she said at last, "poor Sister Carrie!"

At the time of this particular conversation, which occurred at 5
A.M., that little soldier of fortune was sleeping a rather troubled
sleep in her new room, alone.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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