Jennie Gerhardt

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Novel by Dreiser, published in 1911.

As a poor young girl in Columbus, Ohio, Jennie Gerhardt has an affair with Senator Brander, who dies before he can marry her. With their child Vesta she moves to Cleveland and there, attracted by the kindliness and domineering personality of Lester Kane, son of a rich manufacturer, becomes his mistress, although she insists he leave her when she learns that the elder Kane's will provides that Lester receive only a small legacy as long as he remains with Jennie. Lester does leave Jennie to marry Letty Gerald, a woman of his own social class and interests, but installs Jennie in a modest home where she lives with two adopted children after Vesta dies. When Lester falls ill during his wife's absence, he summons Jennie and confesses that she has been his only true love, and she nurses him until he dies.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards).

Reference entries

Theodore Dreiser (1871—1945) American novelist

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