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MonkeyNotes-Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
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Notes

Carol and Hugh have wonderful time together. Hugh's interest in nature sounds very romantic. He wants to know what the tree said and the garage said and cloud said which gives Carol the idea that everything has a soul of its own. The writer makes effective use of nature to show Carol's changing moods. Hugh's sensitivity to nature helps her to refocus on the comedies of sparrows, robins and blue jays and her solicitude is now more for their nests and 'family squabbles'. She finds it to be much better than the squabbles of the matrons of Gopher Prairie. In seeking out the Bjornstams, she sub-consciously shuns the repetitive cackle, jests and gags of the young matrons of the Jolly Seventeen. But she does not realize that the Bjornstams are her closest friends.

She often takes Hugh to play with Olaf Bjornstam. But the opinion of the town is against them and even Kennicott disapproves of his son being taken to play with the son of their former maid. Bjornstam's works for the love of his son and wife. He wants to save money so that he could send his son to college and his wife could become respectable enough to become one of the fashionable crowd. But the town is not ready to acknowledge the change in Bjornstam. The people hate him even more perhaps for his prosperity. No matter how many cows he has or how much money he makes, he is condemned to remain an outsider. It is indeed sad that public opinion does not spare even young children.


To Carol the Bjornstam's are a refuge where she can freely express her cynicism. The elite of Gopher Prairie is boring in the jokes they crack and sentiments they express. They do not laugh. They 'cackle'. The verb cackle here effectively pictures the type of the people. The Bjornstams have all the love and sympathy Carol needs and deserves. Hugh's love for the Bjornstams also is reciprocal. It is Olaf who can share his curiosities and participate in his exploration of nature. He is not allowed to touch his father' instruments but Uncle Bjornstam lets him handle all his instruments. The writer successfully portrays the magical world of children. In the death of Olaf, Hugh loses a wonderful friend and he is left to Aunt Bogart who would teach him about the 'Dear Lord'.

The change Bea and Olaf bring into Bjornstam's life is also very significant. The cynical iconoclast longs for the approval of the people whom he mocked. He becomes sentimental. His love for his family touches a cord in the heart. But the people are so insensitive, they fail to uphold the Christian teaching "Love Thy Neighbor". Even when Carol persuades them to attend the wedding they do not and they refuse to call on them and even criticize Carol for mingling with them.

Carol's love for her friends is revealed in the way she nurses Bea and Olaf in their sick bed. She serves them selflessly and tirelessly. She is the only one in the town to help the helpless. The God fearing, church going people do not have enough humanity in them to give them the love of neighborliness. When they do come to help they are too late. They do not understand Bjornstam's indignation but blame him of arrogance. He is made out to be the villain. They spread rumors about him-that he was a drunkard and that he ill-treated his wife and son. The ultimate insult they perpetuate is to keep away from the funeral of Bea and Olaf.

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