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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 23

Summary

America enters the Great European War. Raymie enrolls in the army, becomes a first lieutenant of infantry and is sent abroad. The sons of Lymn Cass, Sam Clark and Nat Hicks join the army. Both Dr. Terry Gould and Dr. Mc Ganum join the army and become captains. They are stationed at Iowa and Georgia. Kennicott too is eager to join the army. But the doctor's council decides that one young doctor should remain in town to take care of the town's health. Carol knows his longing and she respects him all the more for it. Cy Bogart keeps bragging that he would enroll in the army even without his mother's permission. The people admire him for beating up a German farmer's son. Only Carol cares to remember the boy when he gets killed in the war while trying to bring his Yankee captain's body back to the lines.

The ladies give up their bridge parties and sugar. They help in making bandages for the Red Cross. They talk about Bjornstam's impudence and Dr. Terry Gould's affair with a farmer's daughter four years ago. Carol does her work efficiently but she is unable to bear the way Mrs. Cass and Mrs. Bogart fill the bandages with hatred for the enemies. She mentions this to Vida and Vida admonishes her and makes her cry.

Carol wishes that Prussian autocracy should be defeated. She watches with thrill the troops embarking in New York at the motion pictures. Bjornstam tells her that he had bought two more cows. He scorns the war and the soldiers who have gone to fight. He asserts that he is wise enough to know that he knows nothing about the war. Carol feels terrified that people like Bjornstam are capable of taking care of themselves because she will not be able to play 'Lady Bountiful' to them.


Percy Bresnahan visits Gopher Prairie. The Haydocks, the Kennicott's, the Elders, Nat Hicks and Julius Flickerbaugh go to the station to receive him. Bresnahan shakes Carol's hand warmly. He decides to walk home. Harry carries his leather bag and Jack Elder carries his over coat. He calls on the Kennicotts to see Hugh. He puts his hand around Carol's waist. Carol does not like the liberty he takes. She does not tell Hugh to thank Uncle Bresnahan when he gives her a toy. He keeps complimenting Carol and tells Kennicott to arrange for a fishing trip.

The Kennicotts, the Elders, the Clarks and Bresnahan go fishing to Red Squaw Lake. The men go floating and the women cook lunch. They spend a long time eating and talking. Carol discovers that Bresnahan is indeed very rich and that his love for his friends is genuine. The government had invited him to advise about carburetors. He informs them that Spain would join America in the war. He also tells them that the Germans are loyal to the Kaiser and that he will be back in power. Carol asks him about Russia and he assures her that the Czar would return to power. Carol is sorry to hear that. The others ask him about motor cars, about investment in Texas oil-wells. Carol is conscious of his eyes on her, feels irritated and does not join them in the game of Cribbage. Yet when she sees Juanita leaning out of her window to look at them she feels proud of the attention Bresnahan pays them.

Nat Hicks narrates how Bresnahan ticked off Bjornstam. The latter walked up to him and said that he wanted to see the person who is so useful that he would get paid a million dollars. Bresnahan retorted that he was looking for a man to sweep the floor. He would pay 4 dollars a day if Bjornstam would take up the job.

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