She is bored to death in her sisters house. When she finds work in a shoe factory, this too turns out to be drudgery. She does have enough money to buy some decent clothes as she has to pay four dollars a week as rent to her sister. Carrie begins to hate her co-workers and tries to get out of the boredom by spending most of her free time watching people as they pass on the street outside her sisters house. Carrie loses her job after an illness. It looks like she has to forget her big dreams of becoming rich and famous and return home. However she meets, George Drouet, a successful salesman, who she had earlier met in a train, by chance, a second time. Carrie leaves her sisters house and lives with George. In the meantime Carrie meets George Hurstwood, a friend of Drouet and a wealthy manager of a Chicago tavern. After a string of misunderstandings and errors in moral judgments, Carrie and Hurstwood move on to bigger and better lives in the big city of New York.
Capitalism in America brought one of the biggest changes to American culture and that was the trend of “conspicuous consumption". Carrie in the novel represents consumerism and the American middle class. Carrie is shown as being "ambitious to gain in material things." (Dreiser,1900) And her personality reflects the American middle class growing desire for material things. Carrie wants to accumulate material things because she desires a higher status in society and she is aware that this will undoubtedly ensure her a higher status. Dreiser emphasizes this fact by giving us specific details about everything Carrie owns. Carrie has an imitation alligator-skin bag. She cannot afford a real alligator skin bag but still has an imitation one as she wants the status that goes with conspicuous consumption.
As one reads the novel one can see the transition in Carries character while trying to adjust to the fast life of a big city. She suffers from what