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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 32

Summary

On the Sunday after the barn dance, Carol hears Mrs. Bogarts screeching voice. She presumes that she had a row with her son. Then she sees Fern Mullins carrying a suitcase, walking up the street with her head bent low. She hears Mrs. Bogart telling her not to show her face and contaminate her house. Carol watches her go from house to house. Mrs. Bogart reaches Kennicott's house at suppertime. She tells them that she considers it her duty to warn them but she doesn't expect to be thanked for it. After elaborating upon Fern's eating habits, she gives them a detailed account of what happened after the barn dance. According to Mrs. Bogart, Fern had given Cy a pint of whisky. But, according to Fern, Cy had stolen it from a farmer's pocket. He had got drunk and Fern had driven him home retching.

Mrs. Bogart asserts that Cy never drank but when Kennicott grunts, she admits that he did drink sometimes. She informs them that Cy had confessed in the morning that Fern had dared him to take a drink. She also admits that Fern had denied doing that. But she goes on to elaborate on the number of lustful things that Fern might have done, which makes Carol feel too sick to interfere. Kennicott stops her to tell her that she had not shown them any proof of Fern's misconduct. Mrs. Bogart points out that Fern had admitted to having taken a sip of whisky because Cy had forced her to. Carol points out that a sip of whisky can not make her a bad woman because she herself had tasted whisky. Mrs. Bogart claims that a teacher drinking with her student was certainly wrong. She asserts that Fern would corrupt Cy. When Carol tells her that Cy was corrupted five years ago. Mrs. Bogart tries to defend him. She keeps repeating that she is not fit to be a teacher. She adds that she had already informed the school board.

Carol feels shocked and frightened by the Fern episode. Maud phones to confirm the scandal. She hears voices analyzing and adding to the story. She wonders what connection her interest in Erik had with this affair and realizes that the scandalmongers are unable to hound her on account of her belonging to the elite class.


She finds out that Fern is put up in Minnie Mashie house. She goes there and finds Fern cowed down and weeping. She tries to comfort Fern. Fern tells Carol that she had gone to the dance mainly because she wanted to escape Mrs. Bogart's moral comments and because Cy had promised to be good. She saw Cy steal a bottle from a farmer's coat pocket. Cy had forced her to take a sip. She tells Carol that she had a nice time dancing with a young, strong intelligent farmer but worried about Cy's condition. While she was talking to a girl who had taken the university agricultural course she saw Cy staggering towards her. She wanted to return home but Cy kissed her. A farmer helped her to harness the buggy. She drove him home. Cy kept trying to make love to her but she had strength enough to resist him because of her athletic training. When she reached home, Mrs. Bogart started yelling at her. Still she drove the buggy back to the stable and returned to the house. Even after she got into her room and closed the door, Mrs. Bogart kept shouting at her. She never cared to listen to her side of the story but turned her out of the house. Fern worries about how she would face her class.

Carol goes to the Clarks and tells them Fern's side of the story. They believe Fern and feel sorry for her. Carol asks Sam to fight for Fern. Sam points out that half the board would support Mrs. Bogart and they will consider Fern to be unfit to teach in the school. Carol points out to Sam that a fine girl like Fern should not be sent out into the world with a stain. She begs Sam to make a minority report even if the others would not agree with him. Sam tells her that no reports are made in such cases and only a decision, unanimous or otherwise is announced. Carol asks Sam to threaten to resign if the board decides to fire Fern. Sam becomes uneasy and promises that he will do all that he can. She meets the superintendent of the school-George Edwin Mot, Ezra Stowbody and Rev. Mr. Zitterel and gets only the promise that they will do whatever they can.

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