Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
This chapter is dedicated entirely to Vida Sherwin. An account of her background explains, her anger when Carol criticizes Gopher Prairie. The brief attraction Kennicott had for her comes up as a surprise because neither of them give any indication of it. Kennicott perhaps forgets about it beause he was not encouraged by Vida. But it is surprising that Vida should nurse the little episode in her bosom and develop a love hate relationship with Carol. It is very hard on Carol because she does not know what she is up against.
Vida is a very efficient teacher. She handles students like Cy Bogart. She manages to convince the students to work hard, look up references and learn it and holds debates successfully. She feels proud of her school and looks for positive aspects. She praises the placing of the bust of President Mc Kinley at the head of the stairs because it gives the students the chance to think noble thoughts inspired by the noble President.
In her relationship with Raymie Wutherspoon, he benefits the most. It appears to be an example of the maxim 'every successful man has a woman behind him'. She praises him - "you can do anything with your brains and that heavenly voice". She tells him that he is a good sales man and that Haydock and Simmons owed him the success of BonTon stores. She urges him to demand a partnership. She advises him to, " look folks in the eyes! Glare at 'em! Talk deep! You are the smartest man in town, if only you knew it...". Raymie tells her that when he followed her advice he was so effective that Haydock started talking to him with respect. This proves that Vida is capable of applying psychology in real life effectively.
Marriage changes Vida completely. She loves housekeeping and applies herself to the neglected reforms needed for Gopher Prairie. She grows plump after marriage. She is more imposing. She tells Haydock without mincing words that Raymond Wutherspoon is the most useful person in the store and that he should be given a partnership. So effective is she that Haydock gives Raymie not only a partnership but he also gives him a promotion. The credit of making a man out of Raymie is entirely hers.
But her one vulnerable spot is Kennicott. When she sees Raymie and Kennicott together she tries to convince herself that Raymie looks much better than Kennicott and that Raymie is spiritually superior to 'pokey old' Kennicott. Her reactions are tinged with a jealousy totally alien to her. It is to her credit that she does not allow her disappointment to come between herself and Carol. If she opposes Carol's revolutionary ideas to reform the town it is more because of her own idea of how to carry out reforms than because of the love she lost to her.