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This chapter develops the dilemma Carol has to face. She is happy to watch Erik gaining importance in Gopher Prairie. She feels jealous when she watches Maud Dyer paying more attention to Erik. She hates Maud for looking at Erik in a 'languishing, swooning manner'. She despises herself for dressing up like a young girl. Even though she is reluctant to go for a boat ride alone with Erik, Maud's possessive glance on Erik makes her do that. She feels flattered by Erik's attention. She is happy to know that he thinks she looks young. But she is unable to commit herself. When he asks her if she will play with him, she can only say 'perhaps'. When he wants to curl up on the leaves and watch the stars, she wants to go back. She feels embarrassed to face the others when they return so late. She expects Kennicott to admonish her and feels disappointed when he doesn't. She worries about Mrs. Bogart's questions. She worries about the comments of the matrons of Jolly Seventeen. She even starts explaining to Mrs. Westlake-something that she would never have done before. All this proves that she is not a brazen woman but only a defiant child defying authority. A good contrast is Maud Dyer who is very secretive about her attraction towards Kennicott and his visits to her house in the absence of Dave Dyer -and suffers no such qualms.
Carol has to justify her need for Erik. He symbolizes 'universal and joyous youth'. She is so absorbed in her dilemma that she does not suspect anything when Maud seeks out 'safe Kennicott' at the Baptist church supper. This shows that even she takes Kennicott's love and loyalty for granted. It is indeed a pity that she feels jealous when Maud talks to Erik but feels nothing when the same Maud talks to her husband.
Erik emerges as a more confident person. He earns the attention of many of the people of Gopher Prairie. Even the Haydocks invite him for the lawn-festival. Lymn Cass makes the best possible offer to Erik. To learn the trade and become the general manager of the flourmill. Erik is smart enough to know the implications of that offer. He knows that though he likes dress designing, he may not be very successful. He feels more confident because he is the son of a farmer and has experience in the flourmill so that he can be successful as a miller. He knows that the job of a miller promised 'books, piano and travel'. He claims that he is tired of wandering from farm to tailor to books.
When Carol sneers at Myrtle, he asks-"If I am not to have good, sensible things like those, do you think I'll be content with trying to be a damn dress maker, after you? Are you fair?" he demands Carol's acceptance. In the light of these searching questions Erik appears to be a sensible person. Hence it is really pathetic that this man ends up as a second rate actor in motion pictures.
Another glaring social division is recorded in this chapter. Religion should be a great unifying force. But the class difference is predominant even there. The Baptist and the Methodist church suppers are meant for the humble people like the Woodfords, the Dillons, the Perrys and Oleson the butcher. They are served cold ham, scalloped potatoes or oyster pie and coffee spread on 'oilcloth covered and trestle-supported tables in the church basement'. The aristocrats of Gopher Prairie consider it fashionable to attend to the lawn-festivals of the Episcopal Church with all the splendor of Japanese lanterns, card tables, chicken patties and Neapolitan ice-cream. Such parties are meant for the Haydocks, the Dyers, the Kennicotts, the Elders, Guy Pollock and Cass'.