Jennie Gerhardt

A Novel

Cover image for


Published: 1911
Language: English
Wordcount: 130,178 / 372 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 78.4
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 34,033
Added to site: 2009.05.30 24313

The life story of a woman who craved affection. Unselfish, sweet, trusting, she is the daughter of poor working people in a Western city. She attracts the attention of one who sits in the seats of the mighty and he plans education and marriage with this girl hungry for love and grateful for recognition. But there comes a tragedy which leaves Jennie to face the world alone, with a dominant instinct for sympathy and love, something of which she accepts at last.

Show Excerpt

"I wonder," said the mother, wearily, when they neared the door, "if they've got any coal?"

"Don't worry," said Jennie. "If they haven't I'll go."

"A man run us away," was almost the first greeting that the perturbed George offered when the mother made her inquiry about the coal. "I got a little, though." he added. "I threw it off a car."

Mrs. Gerhardt only smiled, but Jennie laughed.

"How is Veronica?" she inquired.

"She seems to be sleeping," said the father. "I gave her medicine again at five."

While the scanty meal was being prepared the mother went to the sick child's bedside, taking up another long night's vigil quite as a matter of course.

While the supper was being eaten Sebastian offered a suggestion, and his larger experience in social and commercial matters made his proposition worth considering. Though only a car-builder's apprentice, without any education except such as pertained to Lutheran doctrine, to which he objected very strongly, he was


Average Rating of 5 from 1 reviews: *****
Generosa Rader

Dreiser's great theme in his works was the tremendous tensions that can arise among ambition, desire, and social mores. He pioneered the naturalist school and is known for portraying characters whose value lies not in their moral code, but in their persistence against all odds.

Jennie Gerhardt (published in 1911) typifies Dreiser's depiction of unaccepted aspects of life in that era, such as sexual promiscuity. He was often forced to battle against censorship regarding his novels.

Jennie is a destitute young woman who meets Senator George Brander while she works as a maid in a hotel. He becomes infatuated with her, helps her family and wishes to marry her. Grateful for his benevolence, she has an affair with him, they never marry, she becomes pregnant, and he dies unexpectedly. She gives birth to a daughter, has her mother care for the child, and moves to another city, where she finds employment as a maid for a wealthy society matron. Here she meets Lester Kane, a prosperous manufacturer's son, and they embark on a long term love affair.

The novel dwells at length on the struggles they both have regarding right and wrong, social mores, pressures of family disapproval of their life-style, dis-inheritance of Lester by his wealthy father, the love they have for each other, and Lester's ambivalence about marrying Jennie.

I thought the drama between all these forces and this couple was too drawn out, and somewhat boring. But in 1911, it reflected the prevailing moral code which one did not violate, i.e., an honorable person did not engage in lack of social and religious mores under any condition whatsoever, no matter how well-intentioned he or she may be.

Dreiser's prose is incisive, thoughtful, and moving. He portrays his characters with realism and empathy. This is a book which provokes serious questions about our basic human values, ethics, societal norms, religious beliefs, and one's happiness or absence of it, at what cost?

(Promote your book here)

Featured Books

Cover image for Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser - Free eBook


True Alpha 1
Alisa Woods

Shifters in Seattle – Desired (True Alpha 1) Ne... Read more

Cover image for Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser - Free eBook

Open Minds

Mindjack Saga Book 1
Susan Kaye Quinn

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a danger... Read more

Cover image for Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser - Free eBook

Rise of The Iron Eagle

The Iron Eagle Series Book 1
Roy A. Teel Jr.

Is The Iron Eagle a psychotic serial killer?Read more

Cover image for Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser - Free eBook

XGeneration 1

You Don't Know Me (XGeneration Series)
Brad Magnarella

In the fall of 1984, Cold War tensions between... Read more

Cover image for Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser - Free eBook

Drive, Ride, Repeat

The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure
Al Macy

Author Al Macy is a character and a tightwad wi... Read more

Cover image for Jennie Gerhardt by Theodore Dreiser - Free eBook

I Bring the Fire

Part I: Wolves (A Loki Story)
C. Gockel

In the middle of America, Amy Lewis is on her way... Read more

login | register

User ID


reset password

Help ManyBooks by sharing this page!

See it as donating a moment of your social media time, every little thing helps us improve and stay online.

Popular in This Genre

The list of books below is based on the weekly downloads by our users regardless of eReader device or file format.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle
by Théophile Gautier
The Arabian Nights
by Andrew Lang
The ''Genius''
by Theodore Dreiser
The Secret Adversary
by Agatha Christie
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
Moby Dick
by Herman Melville
Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
At the Mountains of Madness
by H.P. Lovecraft

See more popular titles from this genre.