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Sister Carrie: a Novel by Theodore Dreiser
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few hours--a few hundred miles? She looked at the little slip
bearing her sister's address and wondered. She gazed at the
green landscape, now passing in swift review, until her swifter
thoughts replaced its impression with vague conjectures of what
Chicago might be.

When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two
things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better,
or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and
becomes worse. Of an intermediate balance, under the
circumstances, there is no possibility. The city has its cunning
wiles, no less than the infinitely smaller and more human
tempter. There are large forces which allure with all the
soulfulness of expression possible in the most cultured human.
The gleam of a thousand lights is often as effective as the
persuasive light in a wooing and fascinating eye. Half the
undoing of the unsophisticated and natural mind is accomplished
by forces wholly superhuman. A blare of sound, a roar of life, a
vast array of human hives, appeal to the astonished senses in
equivocal terms. Without a counsellor at hand to whisper
cautious interpretations, what falsehoods may not these things
breathe into the unguarded ear! Unrecognised for what they are,
their beauty, like music, too often relaxes, then weakens, then
perverts the simpler human perceptions.

Caroline, or Sister Carrie, as she had been half affectionately
termed by the family, was possessed of a mind rudimentary in its
power of observation and analysis. Self-interest with her was
high, but not strong. It was, nevertheless, her guiding
characteristic. Warm with the fancies of youth, pretty with the