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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Notes

This chapter describes two important happenings in Gopher Prairie. One, is the men of Gopher Prairie joining the army when America enters the war. The other is the visit of Bresnahan. With Raymie at the war front Vida becomes a very important person. She becomes intolerant of Carol. She makes her feel very small. Kennicott's longing to join the army and he being asked to stay back increases Carol's admiration for him. The town's admiration of Cy Bogart for beating up the farmer's son because he is a German and ignoring that same boy's death in the war as an American soldier is typical of Gopher Prairie.

During their work for the Red Cross Carol's sensitivity about the hatred expressed by Mrs. Coss and Mrs. Bogart is right and Vida's rudeness to Carol is unwarranted. Vida asserts that they have given up so much. She seems to forget that Kennicott wanted to join the army and he was requested to stay back.

This part of the story brings to light the patriotism of the people of Gopher Prairie and the effect of the war on it-how they have to go without sugar. It also brings to light another contradiction in Carol's characterization. When Bjornstam informs her about his material progress instead of feeling happy for him, she feels frightened by the way he can be independent. She is a radical socialist who wants everything for everyone but she feels sorry that she cannot play "Lady Bountiful" to people like the Bjornstams and Oscarinas.

The other big incident -the homecoming of the Great Bresnahan focuses more on Carol than on Bresnahan himself. His wealth and his love for his friends are brought out clearly. His interest in Carol cannot be entirely for her beauty. He takes her out to discuss her desire to reform Gopher Prairie. It is indeed surprising that a person who spends the major part of his life outside his home town should go into so much trouble to convince a would be reformer that it is not necessary to change Gopher Prairie.


Carol's attitude towards Bresnahan is very interesting too. Being a woman she knows instinctively that he is attracted towards her. She does not encourage him. At the same time she feels proud of all the attention to her especially in front of Juanita. When Breanahan discusses her ideas about the reforms needed in Gopher Prairie she feels free to express her sentiments without any fear of ridicule. Perhaps she considers him a good friend for this reason. When he tells her that she will give up all her ideas if she were to run a factory, she feels surprised at the way he twists the argument. She appreciates his taste in clothes. She appreciates his genuine affection for his friends. She is right in claiming that people like him could influence the town to change.

Bresnahan is introduced in this chapter even though the people of Gopher Prairie keep referring to him. From the way, the elite of the town carries his luggage, it is obvious that he is the most important person of the town. Even Carol cannot help feeling happy at being singled out by him. He gives donation to the church. He talks to Carol about her complaint against the town more like a friend. He does not preach to her like Vida. Nor does he laugh at her the way Uncle Whittier and Aunt Bessie do. He does not dismiss her grievances as Kennicott does. He is so friendly that Carol finds herself agreeing to his arguments. He calls her a glib talker. But it is clear that even he is a glib talker when he talks to Carol and when he ticks off Bjornstam.

The way the town reacts to him shows the importance it gives to material success. The entire town takes pride in the fact that he belongs to Gopher Prairie. When they go to receive him at the station, they are so happy that Lymn Cass does not mind standing next to the barber and Juanita speaks politely to Miss. Villets. They carry his luggage and they listen to every word he speaks very attentively. Much importance is attached to his opinions. It is indeed amusing the way the writer dismisses him. When Carol espies him during her stay in Washington, her friend-an army officer informs her that he is a nuisance in the aeronautic department because he is good only as a car salesman and knows nothing else. He is described as a rich man poking around and trying to be useful. That is the last the reader hears about him. Hence it is clear that his visit to Gopher Prairie is introduced more to describe the town's attitude than to describe him.

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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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