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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

Chapter 1

Summary

Carol Milford is a senior student of Blodgett College, at Minneapolis. She misses college for an hour and stands atop a hill near the Mississippi. Locks blown by the wind, she makes a pretty picture. She looks down the mountain at the cities of Minneapolis and St.Paul and thinks about walnut fudge and the plays of Brieux.

Carol is slim and beautiful. Her enthusiasm and her trust in the sweetness of life makes her more energetic than many of her athletic classmates. Men fall in love with her but they also feel shy of her because she seems to be aloof and critical. She questions and examines everything constantly. She is versatile hence she finds it difficult to master any one skill to decide upon a career. She is an orphan and most of the income from her father's estate is already spent. So she is determined to make a career for herself. She does not like to become a teacher nor does she develop any friendship serious enough to lead to marriage. She studies Sociology with tremendous interest. The visit to the prisons and charity bureaus as part of the Sociology studies kindles in her, the desire to be the liberator of the poor. She reads a book on village improvement and realizes that nothing has been done to improve the Northwest of America and dreams of adopting a prairie village and changing it into a beautiful place.

Carol was born in Minnesota but brought up in Mankato where her father worked as a judge. Her family was fun loving and innovative. So their Christmas and other parties were full of fun and joy. Her father was learned and kind. He allowed his children to learn from the encyclopedias and from whatever book they liked to read. Her mother died when Carol was nine. Her father shifted his family to Minneapolis after his retirement and died when Carol was thirteen years old. Though Carol has an elder sister she grows up quite independent of all relatives.

Carol has doubts about becoming a teacher, which is the only possible way she could think of, to belong to a prairie village. She fears that she is not strong enough for that routine. Nor does she like the idea of pretending to be wise in front of a class. But her desire to create a beautiful prairie village remains strong. She decides to follow her professor's advice to study library-work.


Carol attends the faculty reception for senior students held before the final examinations. She feels sad at the forthcoming parting from her college mates. Stewart Snyder proposes to her. He plans to become a lawyer and hopes to provide Carol with a beautiful house and all that a woman can dream of. But Carol wants to do something useful with her life. Snyder tries to convince her that making a home and bringing up children is the best way to serve the world. Carol is convinced that she is made for better things than dishwashing. So she rejects Snyder's proposal.

During her study of professional-library work in Chicago, Carol has her fill of artistic life. She attends symphonies, violin recitals and listens to chamber music. She is taken to a Bohemian party. She listens to discussions on Freud, nationalization of mines and Christian Science but feels ignorant, awkward and shy. So she stays away from such parties. She is invited to a dinner by her sister's husband's second cousin. On her walk back home through Wilmett and Evanston she admires the beautiful houses and remembers her dream to beautify a prairie village. She accepts a post in the public library of St.Paul.

In the public library of St.Paul Carol discovers that she can not influence people as much as she thought she could. The readers in the library do not seek her advice. Nor does she find any willingness in the world around her to change. She is fond of her colleagues and proud of their ambitions. She reads enormously. Though many men are attracted to her, she never finds any of them interesting enough. She fears that life is slipping past and then she meets Dr.Will Kennicot.

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