The thesis focuses on the evolution of the New Woman in American literature around 1900, who was the first example of a modern woman. The characters studied are Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin s The Awakening (1899) and Carrie Meeber in Theodore Dreiser s Sister Carrie (1900), as representatives for the white New Woman. Amy Boldin in the novella When the Sleeper Wakes (1920) by Jessie Redmond Fauset and Rachel Loving in the play Rachel (1916) by Anglina Weld Grimké serve as examples of African American New Woman. The thesis compares these protagonists and their evolution as New Women, finding that, despite their obvious diversity, the same types of factors influence them. Among these, the influence by female friendships seems to be decisive. The New Women studied are all, to a various extent, unhappy in their lives as New Women, since they were ready for a world that was not entirely ready for them. The African American women met more resistance in their effort to become independent and modern, since they were daily met with prejudice and racism from the white culture.