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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 31

Summary

On a cool night, when Kennicott is out on a country call, Erik walks into Carol's porch. Carol tells him that he cannot stay for more than five minutes. She invites him into the house because she does not want Mrs. Howland and Mrs. Bogart to watch them. She tells him to have some cake and then go home. But he wants to see Hugh.

When they stand looking at the sleeping Hugh, she feels the sense of friendliness. He wants to see her bedroom. She tells him that he cannot stay and that he should be good. She watches him looking at her books. He kisses her on the eyelids. She asks him to stop and requests him not to spoil the friendship she has for him. Erik tells her that millions of women say that and that it made it all the more glorifying. But Carol is unyielding. She tells him that she might have loved him but it is too late now. She tells him to go away. But when he leaves, she feels disappointed because he didn't stay long enough for her to explain what she meant by being good friends. When she looks out of the bay window she sees Mrs. Westlake walking past her house and looking at her porch and the windows. Carol drops the curtains and stands paralyzed

Two days later Kennicott appears restless and comes straight to the point. He wants to know what Carol had told Mrs. Westlake. He tells her that he had already warned her to be careful with the Westlakes and how Mrs. Westlake has spread throughout the town the gossip that Carol hates Aunt Bessie and that she had her own room because Kennicott snored. She has also spread the rumors that in Carol's opinion Bea was too good for Bjornstam and also that she was angry with the town because they did not invite Erik for dinner. Carol protests that Mrs. Westlake had twisted everything that she had said. Kennicott tells her that he understands that everybody gets angry and they need to blow off steam. But the safest way to do it would be to advertise it in the Dauntless or to holler it out with a megaphone than telling Mrs. Westlake about it.


Carol tells him that she has no friends. Kennicott pats her hand and says nothing more. But Carol feels desolate. She wishes to run to Erik to seek consolation. She worries about what rumors, Mrs. Westlake might have spread about her. Vida calls on her. She wants to know about Carol's interest in Erik. She says that she is convinced of Carol's innocence. She says that she suspects that Carol has some fondness for Erik. She worries that Carol does not know what innocent fondness may develop into. Carol sarcastically asks her if she thought that Erik would think about making love to her. Vida starts crying and tells Carol that she does not know what it is to suffer. She confesses to her that she was fond of Will Kennicott and that once they held hands at a party. She informs Carol that she had let Kennicott go because she thought that she did not suit him. She wants Carol to realize that she looked at the situation through Kennicott's eyes. She also tells Carol that Kennicott is a good man who never strayed from the path of rectitude. Carol understands that Vida imagined that she was confessing about an intimate love and was struggling to cover her shame. So she runs to her and consoles her and proclaims that she would never do anything to hurt Will.

Then Vida tells her that if she wanted to reform people, she should live a spotless life, otherwise she would not be effective. After Vida's departure Carol is full of self-pity. She feels that the tragedy of her life is that there is no tragedy. She could at the most hope to have complications that would turn out to be a farce. She knows that she is not innocent as Vida imagines. Aunt Bessie calls to warn Carol that Kennicott might have his own affairs. Carol asserts that he is too safe. In the seclusion of her room she considers leaving Kennicott. Then she imagines a number of mishaps - like an accident or a patient falsely accusing him of malpractice and wrecking him. Unable to bear the morbid thoughts she runs to his room. When Kennicott holds her by the waist she tells him that she thought that she heard him moan and wishes him good night and returns to her room.

Once when she goes to Nat Hick's shop to discuss Kennicott's suit. Nat chuckles unnecessarily and touches her arm needlessly. He looks from Erik to Carol and she feels that every man in town might be talking about her. She believes that Kennicott must be the only person who knows nothing about what they talked. Before the beginning of school Fern wants to attend the barn dance and she requests Carol to go as a chaperon. Carol is unable to go with her.

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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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