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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Notes

Besides describing Carol's discomfort while carrying her first child, this chapter gives a very amusing account of the behavior of Kennicott's Uncle Whittier and his wife, Aunt Bessie. It was customary for relatives in the early twentieth century America to stay with any relative who happens to live in the place they happen to visit irrespective of the nature of the relationship or of the person's willingness to entertain them. Why waste good money on hotels when you have a relative there, was the attitude of the people in those days. In keeping with this custom the Smails - Kennicott's mother's brother and his wife known as Uncle Whittier and Aunt Bessie come to Gopher Prairie to stay with the Kennicotts.

The way they interfere in whatever Carol does or says is narrated with a sense of humor. Their favorite pass time is to pick on some thing Carol had said and question her and drive her up the wall with fussy surmises about it. They consider Carol to be dreamy and pride themselves about their practical approach. When they have a letter to send by post, they try to determine the postage by discussing about it for hours as if to " evolve the postal rate from their inner consciousness ...combined with entire frankness in thinking aloud"

They do not believe in privacy and feel free to read Carol's letters and even comment about it. When they question Carol about her faith they are 'like the Sunday afternoon mob staring at monkeys in zoo, poking fingers and making faces and giggling at the resentment of the more dignified race.' In all their interference and affection Carol is able to understand their need for love and company. She is unable to be rude to assert her independence. She feels kidnapped by the older matrons of Gopher Prairie in being forced to talk over and over again about babies, cooks, embroidery and similar things. In comparison Jolly seventeen, appears like an oasis.

Olaf Bjornstam being selected as the Best Baby brings out the jealousy and meanness of the matrons of Gopher Prairie. They derisively declare that the Best Baby's future appeared to be bleak with a hired girl, for a mother and an irreverent socialist, for a father.


There is also a comment about the people moving in and out, of people selling and moving out to other places. But the irony is, they settle only in that part of the country, which resembles the place they leave. They are never happy in any place, which does not look and behave like the Main Street That is the reason why Carol does not insist on leaving to any other place. She knows that there is no escape from the Main Street.

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