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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Notes

This part of the novel provides an insight into Carol's family background. The 'joyously absurd parties' of her childhood is what she tries to recreate in the provincial Gopher Prairie where she settles down as the wife of Doctor Will Kennicott. Her reading of books by unconventional thinkers like Thoreau at a tender age explains her attitude towards life and her rejection of the provincialism and materialism of her times. She is therefore different from the people who do not read them. The picture of the visitors in the Milford household looking horrified when the children repeat 'A-And, And-Aus, Aus-Bis, Bis-Cal, Cal-Cha' when they were asked about what they learnt, strikes a humorous note. Though Carol's elder sister is mentioned in this part of the story she never makes her appearance in the entire novel. Probably this early isolation from relatives is the reason for Carol's longing to belong to the ladies group in Gopher Prairie in her later life.

The main flaw in Carol's character is brought to light in this part of the first chapter. Her main ambition in life is to be useful to the society. She goes overboard dreaming about how useful she can be in each possible role - be it as a librarian or as a teacher even before she could acquire the professional qualification to become one. Hence she finds that reality never measures up to her dreams.

Carol has to get married or choose a profession. Even though she knows that Snyder is in love with her, she never encourages him. Yet Snyder proposes marriage to her. She rejects him-not because she dislikes him but for the sake of realizing her dream to do something useful to the society with her education. She is certain that she could encourage some body to become a great artist. She even sees the possibility of herself becoming a great singer or a writer. Thus she rejects the opportunity to settle down to a comfortable life with a man who knows her and loves her and chooses to wait to find out what life has in store for her. She is undecided about what she would do. Yet she is ready to take a plunge into the unknown. This is the spirit of a true pioneer.


Carol gets an exposure to music, classical dancing and Bohemian life. Even though the topics they discuss are what Carol always wanted to listen to and talk about, she finds nothing significant to say to them. This serves as an indicator of Carol's limitations. Her dream of transforming a prairie village is alive, but she feels that only a miracle could make her belong to one so that she could concentrate on beautifying it with Georgian houses and Japanese bungalows. She is taken seriously in a discussion on 'cumulative index' in her library class and this encourages Carol to accept a post in the public library. In selecting her career Carol shows maturity. Her rejection of the Bohemian way of life indicates that for all her rebellion, she is old fashioned.

Though Carol finds a career, she does not find life very exhilarating. Since she cannot be as useful as she thought she would be, she feels disappointed. She does put in a lot of willingness into her work but hardly finds any takers for her enthusiasm. Yet her spirit is not dampened. Her colleague's aspirations make her feel proud of them. This is one of Carol's endearing traits as one can observe in the course of the novel. Such ambitions increase Carol's trust in the sweetness of life. She occupies herself with mundane things like being sensible about her diet and shoes. She suffers from a sense of ennui. Perhaps this sets the stage for the romance that follows her meeting with Dr. Will Kennicott.

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