Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Carol finds Maud to be very friendly. She feels proud of Kennicott's sympathy when he tells her that he feels sorry for Maud because Dave is very rude to her. She also learns through Maud that Nat Hicks has a new assistant who looks so feminine that he is nick named Elizabeth. He dressed up in a coat and necktie and talked in a very refined manner but he earned hardly eighteen dollars a week. The ladies laugh at him and the men also make fun of him. The boys tease him by dropping a decaying perch into his pocket.
Carol attends church because Mr. Zitterel's topic for the day was- America-Face Your Problems. He condemns Mormonism and advocates prohibition. Carol who expected to be enlightened on problems like the Great War and the Russian Revolution feels disappointed. When she looks around to divert herself, she finds a stranger looking at the preacher amusedly. He looks like a poet. But Carol resents the fact that a stranger should find the people of her town amusing. She wants to talk to him. She feels disappointed when she learns that the stranger is Erik Valborg nicknamed Elizabeth.
Carol learns that Valborg is a Swede and he is a farmer's son. He learnt tailoring in Minneapolis. He had read many books on his own. Uncle Whittier comments that he should be in the war. Kennicott informs them that he had applied but had been disqualified.
Fern Mullins the new English, French and gymnastics teacher also attracts Carol's attention. She appears to be lonely so Carol goes to talk to her. She is twenty-two and looks pretty and also rakish. Like Carol she too loves the big cities and feels trapped in Gopher Prairie. She loves dramatics, dancing and basketball. She tells Carol that she knew very well that she would be considered a bad influence if she did any of the things that she liked. She informs Carol that if she got a job in the city she would resign and leave Gopher Prairie. Carol tells her that she too felt the same way. They have so much to talk about that Kennicott has to come out to call Carol to go to bed. Carol feels very happy to have found a good friend.
Erik also has the ambition to go east and become a dress designer. He knows that many people consider dress designing to be lady's work and they made fun of his ambition. He informs Carol that he hated tailoring and did not care to become a salesman. He asks for Carol's opinion about what he should do. She tells him that as a stranger she had no right to advise him. He tells her that she is no stranger to him because he had heard a lot about her. She invites him to come to her house at eight-o clock so that they could discuss restarting the dramatic club.
Carol is full of sympathy for Erik. She feels that he has no sense of humor, though he looked like John Keats. Kennicott talks to Fern very jovially but is aloof with Eric. He does not participate in their discussion but sits watching them amiably. Fern airs her grievances. Carol sulks every time The Girl from Kankakee is mentioned. Erik makes some suggestions. He wants to stage Suppressed Desires. He even suggests the settings. He also suggests The Black Mask, which, according to him has a glorious ending. He describes the woman in the story looking at the face of the man with the black mask. His face is blown away and she screams. At this Kennicott laughs and Fern moans and Erik looks bewildered. They part without deciding anything.