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From Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900)

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FROM THEODORE DREISER, SISTER CARRIE (1900)

The present text is a fragment from Sister Carrie, which was written by Theodore Dreiser. He was one of the first american naturalist authors and journalists. Sister Carrie was censored, because the protagonist was not judge in the novel for her acts. It was published for the first time in 1900 in a very light version. It was not until 1981 when the uncesored novel came to light.

Sister Carrie is one of the best examples of Naturalism, which began in France at the end of 19th C and expanded to Europe and America at the beginning of the 20th C.  In the same way as Realism, Naturalistic movement wanted to show the real world without idealisations. However, Naturalism focused on most marginal classes such as poor people, working classes, beggars, prostitutes... Naturalism was very critical with capitalist system and presented the constant conflict between indivuals and society.

The movement was very influenced by Darwin's theory of natural selection , which meant that only the strongest and fittest creatures will get to adapt in their environment and in consequence they'll survive. And also the determinist theory: It is that mankind is determined by their social environment, which means that they can't change their social status, and also by their heredic characteristics. Moreover, humans beigns maintain an individual conflict agaisnt their animal instits, which are often out of control. So, in some way Naturalism presents humans with no complete liberty,

Sister Carrie exposes all this naturalists features throughout the novel. It tells the history of a young woman of eighteen years who decide to abandon her little village and move to the big city, where she's going to face lots of new problems. Darwinism is present as she has to survive in this new life. Somehow, she represents the American dream, as she dreams about succeed and improve her life conditions.

The text refers the moment when Caroline is just in the train to move to Chicago. The author makes an expanded description of Caroline. He provides precise information about her age and the time where the action takes place (line 5 "It was in August, 1889. She was eighteen years of age...". Her personality is also depicted: She has the innocence of the youth but also she's self-confident of her, and she will keep going with her decision of going away (lines 6,7,8,). We can know that she cames from a humble family through the basic things she's carrying with her. "a small trunk, a cheap imitation alligator skin-satchel, a small lunch in a paper boc...four dollars in money". It is also said that her father belongs to the working class. So, from the very beginning the author presents her low socioeconomic situation.

In the second paragraph the narrator explains the moment when she's already in the train and alludes to the great improvement of communications during that time "Columbia city was not very far away..." She is sure about her decission and she left behing her past and ends thinking in a better future "lines 19-20 "swift review, until...what Chicago might be". Throughout the whole paragraph the author uses the free indirect speech because although he's speaking in the third person there are some words which seem to belong to the protagonist. So, there's a kind of confussion between both voices.

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