In What Ways and with What Results, Does Theodore Dreiser’s Novel Sister Carrie and the Development of Chicago as an Industrial Centre Including the Haymarket Affair Dramatize the Tensions of American Modernity?

In what ways and with what results, does Theodore Dreiser’s novel Sister Carrie and the development of Chicago as an industrial centre including the Haymarket Affair dramatize the tensions of American modernity?

Through the exploration of the development of Chicago as an industrial centre, including the Haymarket Affair and the novel Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, we can begin to understand the term of American Modernity and what tensions arose through it. I will firstly look at the ways in which the subjective Character of Carrie symbolizes the theme of modernity through its capitalist and consumer themes. This will then lead me to explore the effect of modernity on the individual in the novel, which can be cross examined with the industrialisation of Chicago through its engagement with class relations and its effects on society as a whole. I will also look at one specific motif of modernity in the novel Sister Carrie, which symbolizes the modernization we appreciate in the industrialisation of Chicago, through its depiction of transparent objects. Finally, through the exploration of the Haymarket Affair the examination of class conflicts can be broadened in order to gain a greater understanding of the tensions of American Modernity.
Firstly through the novel Sister Carrie we can appreciate the tensions of American modernity which is depicted through the character of Carrie whose role reflects that of a new subjective identity. The subjectivity which Carrie represents is highlighted through Carrie’s perspective of situations and her desires throughout the novel, which produces an interesting connection between the individual and the environment, thus presenting the tensions of modernity. Initially, highlighted by Lahoucine Ouzgane ‘The insistent theme of Mr. Dreiser’s work is desire, perennial, unquenchable... His hero is really not Sister Carrie..., but that desire within us that pounds in manifold quise against the iron walls of experience’. Here the...