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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Chapter X

In the light of the world’s attitude toward woman and her duties,
the nature of Carrie’s mental state deserves consideration. Actions
such as hers are measured by an arbitrary scale. Society possesses
a conventional standard whereby it judges all things. All men
should be good, all women virtuous. Wherefore, villain, hast thou

For all the liberal analysis of Spencer and our modern naturalistic
philosophers, we have but an infantile perception of morals. There
is more in the subject than mere conformity to a law of evolution.
It is yet deeper than conformity to things of earth alone. It is more
involved than we, as yet, perceive. Answer, first, why the heart
thrills; explain wherefore some plaintive note goes wandering
about the world, undying; make clear the rose’s subtle alchemy
evolving its ruddy lamp in light and rain. In the essence of these
facts lie the first principles of morals.

"Oh," thought Drouet, "how delicious is my conquest."

"Ah," thought Carrie, with mournful misgivings, "what is it I have

Before this world-old proposition we stand, serious, interested,
confused; endeavouring to evolve the true theory of morals-the
true answer to what is right.

In the view of a certain stratum of society, Carrie was comfortably
establishedin the eyes of the starveling, beaten by every wind and
gusty sheet of rain, she was safe in a halcyon harbour. Drouet had
taken three rooms, furnished, in Ogden Place, facing Union Park,
on the West Side. That was a little, green-carpeted breathing spot,
than which, to-day, there is nothing more beautiful in Chicago. It
afforded a vista pleasant to contemplate. The best room looked
out upon the lawn of the park, now sear and brown, where a little
lake lay sheltered. Over the bare limbs of the trees, which now
swayed in the wintry wind, rose the steeple of the Union Park
Congregational Church, and far off the towers of several others.

The rooms were comfortably enough furnished. There was a good
Brussels carpet on the floor, rich in dull red and lemon shades,
and representing large jardinieres filled with gorgeous, impossible
flowers. There was a large pier-glass mirror between the two
windows. A large, soft, green, plush-covered couch occupied one
corner, and several rocking-chairs were set about. Some pictures,
several rugs, a few small pieces of bric-a-brac, and the tale of
contents is told.

In the bedroom, off the front room, was Carrie’s trunk, bought by
Drouet, and in the wardrobe built into the wall quite an array of
clothing-more than she had ever possessed before, and of very
becoming designs. There was a third room for possible use as a
kitchen, where Drouet had Carrie establish a little portable gas
stove for the preparation of small lunches, oysters, Welsh rarebits,
and the like, of which he was exceedingly fond; and, lastly, a
bath. The whole place was cosey, in that it was lighted by gas and
heated by furnace registers, possessing also a small

grate, set with an asbestos back, a method of cheerful warming
which was then first coming into use. By her industry and natural
love of order, which now developed, the place maintained an air
pleasing in the extreme.

Here, then, was Carrie, established in a pleasant fashion, free of
certain difficulties which most ominously confronted her, laden
with many new ones which were of a mental order, and altogether
so turned about in all of her earthly relationships that she might
well have been a new and different individual. She looked into her
glass and saw a prettier Carrie than she had seen before; she
looked into her mind, a mirror prepared of her own and the
world’s opinions, and saw a worse. Between these two images she
wavered, hesitating which to believe.

"My, but you’re a little beauty," Drouet was wont to exclaim to

She would look at him with large, pleased eyes.

"You know it, don’t you?" he would continue.
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PinkMonkey Digital Library-Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

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