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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Notes

Bjornstam's marriage effects a sea change in him. The irreverent heretic of the town now longs for its approval. Carol watches him working hard to give Bea all the comforts in life and his longing to make her be respected by the important people of the town. Carol helps them to change their shanty into a cottage with paintings and chairs and such other things. But the town is not ready to forget how offensive Bjornstam was. They show their meanness by not attending the wedding. No one cares to call on them. But Carol treats them as her friends and they are devoted to her.

Carol goes overboard with enthusiasm once again, when she becomes a member of the library board. The other members intimidate her with their knowledge initially. After a few meetings she discovers that they are as egoistic with their knowledge as she is with hers. They are not ready for any reforms. They are not ready to part with their money even for a good cause. They are mean enough to grill Miss. Villets for the shortage of a paltry sum. Though they claim that they love Gopher Prairie they do not care to make its library the best. Of what use is knowledge if the learned person will deny his fellowmen, the chance to get the best books?

It is no wonder then that she longs to escape from the town. Since she finds herself inescapably rooted she takes refuge in dreams. She dreams of faraway lands and the sights and sounds of the seashore. The trains become the means of her escape in her imagination.


The description of the chatauqua is an exercise in sarcasm. The lectures are not different from the papers read by the members of the Thanatopsis in their thought content. The lectures do not try to elevate the people of Gopher Prairie to the level of the great men by highlighting the essence of their greatness - their ideals, their struggles and their sacrifices. They stress on their early life of poverty, which gives the wrong impression that poverty is noble and any poor man can achieve greatness by virtue of being poor. The people of Gopher Prairie who give importance to money above everything else applaud the idea and feel very educated. One cannot help wondering if this should be considered hypocrisy or ignorance. The level of the cultural entertainment they offer is also very low according to Carol. The people lack good taste or perhaps they lack judgement.

When the First World War breaks out, it is Carol who talks about it. In this she reveals her concern for world matters. Bjornstam who is treated as an outsider, and later on called a pro-German is the one who feels that the Germans should not be allowed to advance. Carol feels concerned about the struggles Bjornstam and Bea have to go through. In the midst of the unchanging attitude of Gopher Prairie, the only change life can offer to Carol seems to be the baby she is expecting.

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