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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 26

Summary

Carol takes Hugh for a walk. Hugh's interest in nature makes her forget her boredom when she is with him. They both love to go to Bea's house. Carol finds companionship in the Bjornstams. Hugh admires Bjornstam and loves Olaf. Carol feels that Olaf looks regal like a king and that Hugh appears like a common businessman in his presence. Hugh suggests the game and Olaf condescends to play. Bjornstam makes a chariot for them out of a starch box and four red spools. Bea treats the children equally and loves to be hospitable. Bjornstam is prosperous. He now has six cows, two hundred chickens and a ford truck. He has added two more rooms to his shack. Hugh loves every activity of Bjornstam -like chasing the pigs and slaughtering the chicken. Hugh loves to watch his tools. Bjornstam allows him to touch the tools, the thing, which he is never allowed to do in his father's office.

Bjornstam tells Carol that as long as they lived in Gopher Prairie he will not be respected. Bea loves to entertain so he feels sad to see that her desire is not fulfilled. He tells her how Bea had taken him to the church once. But even there he was being ignored. So he knows that his reputation as a bad man is permanent. He also tells her that he does not mind it as long as he has Olaf to play with. He buys a phonograph for Bea. Bea is a hard working woman and she enjoys the work. Carol goes to their house to tell them all about Joralemon and finds both Bea and Olaf sick with fever. She learns from Bjornstam that he used to get water from Oscar Eklund's well. Since he kept teasing Bjornstam constantly about being too stingy to dig his own well, he offered him money. But Oscar refused to accept it so he had to take water from Mrs. Fageros's which was not good.


Dr. Kennicott comes and diagnoses their ailment as typhoid. Bea's cousin Tina is away at the country. So Carol starts nursing Bea and Olaf from eight in the morning till midnight. She feeds them, bathes them, and takes their temperature and smoothes their bed sheet. Bjornstam does the cooking and the sweeping. Dr. Kennicott attends them three times a day and is tender and hopeful to the patients and polite to Bjornstam.

The condition of the patients worsens steadily and Bea even becomes delirious. Carol hardly sleeps for three hours and runs back to nurse them. In the second week of the illness Vida, Maud Dyer and Mrs. Zitterel call bearing grapes and women's magazines. They tell Bjornstam that they came to see if there was anything they could do for Bea. He tells them that it was too late to do anything for her. He also tells them that when she was well she eagerly waited for them to call, to make friends with them. He adds that they never came and shuts the door. They go away feeling insulted. Olaf dies that afternoon. Bea dies the next morning. Bjornstam, Kennicott and Carol wash the bodies. Bjornstam tells Carol to go home and sleep. She says she will be back for the funeral. But the next morning she lies too exhausted to get up. Through the window she sees Bjornstam walking alone behind the bodies of Bea and Olaf. That afternoon Juanita calls on Carol and tells her that Bea and Olaf died because Bjornstam drank too much and ill-treated them.

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