Top critical review
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Interesting, yet oh so Wordy
on June 4, 2014
Dreiser's classic, "Sister Carrie," was on my list of novels to choose from for my English 102 required reading. I chose it due to online reviews and the storyline's personal appeal to me. While Dreiser does an excellent job of describing his settings in their full historical context from Chicago to New York City, and is very thorough about his explorations of his characters' minds, I thought his novel too abundant with unimportant (yet painstakingly described) characters, meaningless details, lengthy explanations, and self-important philosophical ponderings.
If you enjoy such literary journeys, however, give the book a read. Sister Carrie is unique for her time and her surroundings are fairly fascinating. I was unhappy with the somewhat chauvinistic undertone the story carries, although perhaps for the time period Dreiser would be considered fairly progressive. Many readers can likely identify with the story's opening theme, of a girl on her own for the first time, timid and feeling alone in a big, imposing city. Carrie's struggle with finding a job, money, independence, and her place in the world is easy to relate to and her inner journey is portrayed well. After reading the Shmoop review of the book, I decided I could have skipped laboring through Dreiser's long-winded writing and simply hopped through a few much catchier, more interesting scholarly critiques.
The bottom line: If you're looking to spend many hours soaking into the pages of a well-developed rags-to-riches tale, check out Sister Carrie. If you're looking to enjoy the gist in a jiff, just read the reviews.