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Desire and Dehumanization in Theodor Dreiser’s Sister Carrie

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Theodor Dreiser's Sister Carrie dramatizes the unbridled greed for wealth and craze for status in an extremely commercialized world. It exemplifies the servitude of a society beholden to a consumerist market, where the affluent prey on the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the poor. The novel captures human relations in their seismic change, where family bonds are breaking down and the family is losing its role as a basic social unit. This article will argue that human desire lies at the heart of family breakdowns in Sister Carrie. In doing so, it will provide an insight into the workings of the capitalist system, including its inroads into the shores of human desire – explaining how it robs individuals of their true essence and dehumanizes them. Finally, the article will call for checks and balances vis-à-vis our uncontrollable desires and recommend collective efforts in order to protect the institution of family and bring back commercialized societies from the brink.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 84)
M. Hanif and H. Badri, "Desire and Dehumanization in Theodor Dreiser’s Sister Carrie", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 84, pp. 14-21, 2018
Online since:
October 2018

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