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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Notes

This chapter begins with an insight into Carol's idea of beauty. It is the opposite of all that she finds in her own house and in the town, which she would transform. The furniture in the house is treasured because they are family relics. But Carol finds them ugly, smelly and uncomfortable and she decides to change them. In the buildings of Gopher Prairie, she finds a total lack of imagination and a disregard for other people. The people of Gopher Prairie have money but they lack the sense of aesthetic beauty. She has a picture of the ideal village in her mind but reality does not match her imagination.

Bea Sorenson is another new character introduced in this chapter. She finds the buildings of Gopher Prairie to be awe-inspiring. Carol has the urge to flee from the town, whereas Bea Sorenson is ready to accept a job even if she were to be paid only two dollars a week. Yet Bea is not presented as a foil to Carol. The two are developed as two individuals. This reveals the novelist's capacity to present people realistically.

The presentation of the privileged crowd of Gopher Prairie is full of satire. For all her progressive thinking, Carol has qualms about the tailor and the under taker being part of her social circle. In making them a part of their group, the smart crowd of Gopher Prairie appears to be more democratic. The status of a person in the society depends more on how people look at them rather than on what they really are. This is illustrated by Kennicott’s statement ‘they have the stuff’.


Many other new characters are also introduced in this chapter. The Dawsons, Mr. Mott, Rita Simons, Dr Terry Gould, Ezra Stowbody, are all very influential but very provincial people. They are totally incapable of having fun. Carol dares to shock them by being frivolous. People gape at her, which she mistakes for admiration. Their topics for discussion are limited. Men and women alike discuss either the tonsils of Ella or the extravagance of Clara Beggins. Carol's attempt to lead the discussion towards relevant social issues like labor organizations draws flak. Even men like Ezra Stowbody, who have money enough to change the lives of the laborers for the better, reveal their narrow- mindedness and intolerance towards socialists, labor organizers and immigrants. Carol with her uncomfortable questions is dismissed summarily and the men return to their discussion of motor cars and other such trivia of daily life. Even the 'stunts' performed at the party highlight their lack of imagination and the lack of a sense of fun. As Carol aptly observes 'they sat up with gaiety as with a corpse'.

This chapter also throws light on another aspect of Carol's nature. She has radical ideas about social reformation. Yet she is weak enough to want to be appreciated and admired. She feels mortified to have to admit her lack of knowledge of the card game they play. So she airily declares that she used to be good at 'bezique'. The people around are not familiar with the game and as expected they feel impressed. Her ego gets hurt when Kennicott warns her to watch what she spoke about in front of the people. Kennicott has to just mention that the Dawsons and the Clarks admired her and enthusiasm is revived. Kennicott declares that she is his soul and she feels elated and readily forgets Main Street and its ugliness.

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