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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 7

Summary

Gopher Prairie is stirred into activities by the approaching winter. The men become busy fixing up the storm windows. Miles Bjornstam is a much-sought plumber in the winter season. He is the handy man who can fix anything. The poorer houses are banked to the lower windows with earth and manure. Snow fences are erected along the railroad. The farmers use home- made sleighs to travel. Winter clothes are taken out. Discussion of winter garments replaces personal gossip. The coats they wear decide the class of the wearer. The poor wear dog skin coats. Kennicott wears a raccoon Ulster and a seal cap. Carol wears a loose coat of nutria.

People of Gopher Prairie love to compete with the big cities in the use of motorcar and they consider skiing and sliding to be stupid and old-fashioned. Carolís group goes skating on the Ploves Lake. Then Carol tries to organize a sliding party and finds the women unwilling to leave their heaters and their bridge sessions. They, however oblige Carol once by scooting down the hill on bob sleds and by swearing that they would do it again-but they never do it again. Her attempt to get another group to go skiing meets with the same response. They go skiing once, vow that they love it, and would do it again but go back to their bridge never to try skiing again.

A very discouraged Carol accompanies Dr Kennicott on his rabbit hunting trips. She goes up-town to the grocer and finds people engaged in cutting wood to stock winter fuel. She greets people merrily, buys a can of tomatoes and returns home feeling blissfully happy. But once Kennicott goes into the country to attend to a patient, and Bea takes her evening out, Carol discovers that she has nothing to do.

Carol finds that her household chores and shopping trips cannot satisfy her longing for activity. She feels her scope for useful activity to be very limited. She could have children, or start her reformation campaign, or become a part of the study club, or play bridge, or participate in the activities of the church. Kennicott does not want children until they become financially better off. She decides therefore to start with her reforms. She realizes that she has to become a part of the town if she wants to reform it. She wonders about how the people react to her. She observes the way people talk to her and realizes that Chet Dashaway sounded impersonal and Howland seemed to be curt. She also feels infuriated that she has to care for what people think about her.


One clear morning Carol gives in to the urge to run down the street and jump across a welter of slush and notices the disapproving glances of the ladies from behind the window curtains. She never dares to run or shout in the public again.

The members of Jolly Seventeen are young married women with their husbands as associate members. Once a week the women play bridge and once a month the men and women have supper and bridge parties. Carol attends the Jolly Seventeen-bridge session at Juanita Haydock's house soon after she decides to find out what the ladies think of her. She has to apologize for not learning to play bridge. Mrs. Dave Dyer remarks that Carol did not seem to appreciate the honor of the membership to the club because she got it so easily. Carol notices Mrs. Dashaway nudge her neighbor. She also feels that she is being treated brusquely, when she tries to talk about another bobsled party. She finds that she is being ignored and she does not like it. So when Rita Simmons admires her steel buckles, she feels happy. When Mrs. Howland remarks that her new couch is too broad, she feels irritated. Her effort to make peace earns another rebuff from Mrs. Howland. Carol feels very haughty and receives more comments.

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