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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 16

Summary

It is Christmas Day and Carol decorates the Christmas tree imaginatively. Kennicott feels happy with the presents given by Carol. He presents her with a diamond bar-pin. After giving the beautiful Christmas tree a cursory glance, he suggests that they should go to Jack Elder’s house to play. Carol feels nostalgic about her childhood Christmas parties. In the privacy of her bathroom she sits on the edge of the bathtub and has a good cry for all the fun she misses in her adult life.

Kennicott loves five things in life. They are - his work as a doctor, his wife Carol, his car, hunting and his ventures in real estate. He expects Carol to share his interests. But he gives Carol only superficial information, which cannot satisfy her natural curiosity. When he cleans his gun, she suggests that he should throw away the hunting equipment he used as a child. He says they may need it. Carol blushes thinking that he refers to the children they plan to have. She wants to have children and feels sorry that he wants to postpone it till they have enough savings to afford them.

Kennicott usually finds out about farmers who wish to sell their farms. He consults Lymn Cass about the yield and Julius Flickerbaugh about the legal aspects. Then he buys the farm and sells it for a profit after installing cement floor in the barn and running water in the house. When Carol tries to understand his interest in cars, she watches him mulling over the question about what should he fill his radiator with-during the winter-because he has the option of alcohol and nonfreezing liquid. When she tries to show interest in his medical practice, he gives her news about who is expecting a baby and about who is in trouble.

They watch a movie about a reformer who changes the idyllic life of a town to teach the people to mine for iron ore, which is used to make ships to carry more iron ore. There is also a picture called ‘Right On The Coco’ for comic relief. It contains lots of suggestive scenes and slapstick comedy like slipping a piece of custard pie into the rear pocket of the priest. The audience enjoys it tremendously. On their way back home Carol remarks that they do not allow frank novels because it was a moral country but would have films like ‘Right On the Coco’. Kennicott comments that she is a diehard reformist. But he is convinced that if Carol had to make a choice she would prefer Sam Clark to any longhaired artist. He fails to understand her objection to films like ‘Right on the Coco’.


Carol is frustrated because she has failed in all her efforts. She feels that Kennicott takes her love for granted. She feels that watching him operating and admiring him is not enough for her. She feels that she must leave Kennicott if she wants to find a purpose in life. She also knows that she will not leave Kennicott. But she knows that she has to get on with her reformation.

She invites Vida and Guy Pollock to have popcorn. While Vida and Kennicott discuss education in the hall Carol sits buttering the popcorn near Guy Pollock. She tries to explain to Guy her dream of Utopia with the hope that he would help her to realize it. But Guy Pollock tells her that he would prefer to have the elegance tranquility and manners of the past. He would have the class distinctions but would not care to see the world reduced to the mediocrity of equality. Carol realizes that Guy Pollock is as ordinary as any other Gopher Prairie individual who cannot understand her dream of everything for everyone. She understands the longing in his eyes but checks him by getting up to join Vida and Kennicott. She decides to wage her war alone.

Kennicott had ordered a kitchen range without Carol’s knowledge. So Carol is pleasantly surprised to see Bjornstam cutting poplar wood. She runs out to talk to him and he tells her that he would take her on his horse-trading trip the next year and she answers that she might go with him. When it is lunchtime, Kennicott phones to inform that he was going out to the country. So Carol invites Bjornstam to have lunch. She eats alone, while Bjornstam and Bea eat in the kitchen. She joins them after she finishes eating and enjoys chatting with them. She finds that Bjornstam and Bea are attracted to one another. She decides to continue with her crusade alone.

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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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