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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 3

Summary

Dr.Will Kennicott marries Carol after courting her for a whole year. Train No 7 carries the bride and the groom to Gopher Prairie. Carol feels distressed by what she finds around her. Though the train has plush seats, it has neither beds nor any other provision to make the passengers comfortable. The passengers are poor farmers, their tired wives and their numerous children. They look unwashed and carry dirty old baggage. Carol also notices that the travelling salesmen and other workmen are better dressed than the farmers are.

Carol had traveled by the same train before but the crowd now acquires a new importance. She perceives them as her people whom she would change. Their poverty and ignorance pain her. She wishes to shake them out of their meek acceptance of their situation.

Dr. Kennicott is surprised by Carol's perception. He perceives them as upcoming farmers who do not mind the hardship. He informs Carol that they are better off than she thinks. They enjoy facilities like the telephone and the rural free delivery system. They can drive to the movies in their Ford cars. He does not find the prairie villages as ugly as Carol thinks they are. What matters to him is that a lot of potatoes, wheat corn and rye are exported from those prairie towns.

The train halts at a small station called Schoenstorm. Carol tries to draw Kennicott's attention to the ugliness of the town. The town looks artificial because the houses are ill assorted and the shops are covered with garishly painted clapboards and the church is built of bright red bricks. Kennicott points at a man getting into a car and informs Carol that he is Rauskukle, the richest farmer who owned half the town. He also informs her that the other Dutch farmers who inhabit the town are rich enough but are too slow to change. Carol remarks that Rauskukle's money should be ploughed back into the beautifying of the town since he earned all his riches off the town. Kennicott does not comprehend her. He concludes that she talks wildly because she is tired. Carol is convinced that even if the prairie region is growing rich, it had to develop its social and cultural attitudes. She wonders if it would develop into a humane center where people would develop the questioning and the scientific spirit and aesthetic values or would choose to remain only another materialistic part of America.


She is startled by Kennicot's announcement that they are nearing home. Suddenly she feels that her husband is a total stranger to her. She realizes that Gopher Prairie looks just like the other prairie towns she saw enroute. She feels the urge to run away. But she also feels touched by his enthusiasm and his excitement. She thinks about how loving and trusting he is and decides to accept Gopher Prairie as her own.

Kennicott's friends Sam Clark, Dave Dyer, Jack Elder, Harry Haydock and Juanita welcome the bride to Gopher Prairie. Carol is touched by their hearty welcome, but she also feels shy because she cannot match their enthusiasm. Sam Clark drives them home. She finds him very likeable. She feels disappointed that her homecoming is not as dramatic or as beautiful as the romances she read had always made them out to be. The old fashioned house without any garden to boast of proves to be the biggest disappointment of all. However, the fact that she is to be allowed to make whatever changes she wants in the house and select the maid perks her up. She sees in her husband courage and kindness inspite of his insularity. She knows in her heart that he is the one who would shelter her from the world that perplexed her so much.

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