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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Notes

Carols loneliness is elaborated upon in this chapter. Instead of feeling sorry for herself she decides to fight back. The people of the town prefer coffee but Carol prefers to have tea. In her defiant mood she even makes elaborate arrangements to have tea complete with the tea table and the tea cloth. But in her waiting for some friend to call, her longing for friends is revealed. But her spirit survives the initial misery. She is fair enough to wonder in the middle of her misery if she is right in considering the attitude of the people to be a blank wall and a swamp of prejudice.

Once she hits upon the idea of making Kennicott appreciate poetry she goes overboard with enthusiasm. She has visions of happy poetry reading sessions. She is never weighed down by disappointments for long and always manages to surface with some idea, which makes her go singing or playing the piano. The attraction she finds in the industries of the town and her longing to work there explains her dread of the get together of the Jolly Seventeen. This proves that she indeed has a working brain, which can not find satisfaction in gossip.

Her admiration for Bjornstam and his views reveal that she herself is a radical at heart. Her happiness when he criticizes the Jolly Seventeen and her eagerness to know how he would deal with people who criticize shows her to be emotionally immature.

Bjornstam is presented as one of the important characters of the novel in this chapter. He dares to be different and does not care for the opinion of the people of the town about him. His perception of the people of the town is correct. The analogy he draws between a sinking ship and Gopher Prairie is very apt. It is consistent because he sustains the analogy by comparing Vida’s ‘dinky’ reforms to the ‘bailing out of water from the sinking ship’ and by describing Guy Pollock as the impractical man who tries to set things right by reading poetry to the crew. Interestingly Carol herself decides to start her reformation of the town by creating an interest for poetry in Kennicott. She finds a kindred spirit in Bjornstam.


The implementation of Carol’s decision to teach Kennicott to appreciate poetry proves to be a comic interlude. If Kennicott’s bewilderment at being forced to listen to ‘high brow stuff’ like Yeats’ poetry is amusing, his comparing Carol’s reading poetry to Ella Stowbody’s recital is hilarious. Carol begins with the lofty aim of ‘planting a seed to crack the wall of mediocrity’ and ends up watching a movie with Kennicott and laughing heartily at the slapstick comedy, much to her own dismay.

Carol’s happiness at being greeted by friends and the attention Guy Pollock and Raymie Wutherspoon reveals the childlike pleasure she takes in being given importance. The way she tries to please the members of the Jolly Seventeen so that she would be accepted shows that she has a practical side too. But it is a flaw in the character of a reformer. Perhaps this is why Carol is unable to convince people to accept her ideas.

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