Main Street

.. te and made up excuses such as Dave wants me to sit in a poker game or ..afraid the dampness might start my toothache (186). Many did not even bother to call and make up an excuse. Their rudeness and horrible punctuality was caused by the actors and actresses not liking Carol and her non-conformity. The play turned out to be a flop and the towns gossip and talk started to bother Carol.

She was not the only person affected by the towns manners and morals. As a result of Miles Bjornstams wife and son being killed by drinking contaminated water, Miles was the only one left to blame because he did not provide the family with clean water (280). The town demoralized him by showing little sympathy for Miles. As he moved away to Canada, There was talk of arresting him, of riding him on a rail and they called him a ..blasphemer and a traitor (285). During a time of need for MIles, the small town perception is to blame someone to deal with a death.

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These kinds of morals expressed by the town are all throughout the novel and their manners are not similar with what big city folks perceive as good manners. At a party served by Carol, the guys ask for food. When they are served they do not even acknowledge her and she says, Your friends have the manners of a barroom (Lewis 260). This perfectly illustrates and summarizes how the people in small towns gossip, stereotype, and do not accept anything that is not according to their own rules and standards. This leads to Gopher Prairie having problem within their own society.

In fact, there are many different situations that occur in small towns that would not occur in other places. For example in the first party, the men and women divide and talk of different issues (42). This example shows how the women and men are different in what they talk about because of their conformity. Carol wants to know what the men talk about, as the other women of children, sickness, and cooks.. (41).

She is an outcast because she is bored by irrelevant and uncomplex conversations. During this time, Carol brings up advanced topic and is shocked at the men and women because they are not used to such topics being brought up. Later that night Will Kennicott tells Carol that she has to be ..more careful about shocking folk (45). He turns out to be just like the townspeople that live in Gopher Prairie because he wants his wife to conform to the ways of a town party. Carol does not accept this conformity and decides to have her own party.

She wants her party to glow and be extravagant. Ill make em lively, if nothing else. Ill make em stop regarding parties as committee-meetings (64). She manages an old-fashioned square dance, a solo by Raymie Wutherspoon, and a rough-and-tumble game involving wolves and shepherds, the guests shoes being sheep. The grand climax of the evening is the paper Chinese masquerade costumes for a Chinese concert, with tabouret and combs for drums and fifes.

This party is a big change for the townspeople and they have fun and enjoy it, but the following week a party is held where the group reverts to stunts and dull conversation once again. Carol tries to change the social conditions of the town, but her efforts give in to conformity. Her attempts to stimulate some gaiety are met with embarrassment and ridicule, and killed by an unshakable preference for things as usual (Grebstein 65). After Carol realizes that people have been criticizing instead of admiring her, she becomes lonely and goes back to the Jolly Seventeen club as a result. Her longing for companionship has forced her to make concessions and to be more diplomatic.

She had no opinions on anything more polemic than woolen unio-suits.. (108). Because she is lonely and has no place to turn, she is forced to go against her own morals and be a conformist because of the social conditions of Gopher Prairie. Of course the other women like this change in Carol as one of the member says, Isnt dandy that your have settled down to being homey with us (109). The people in the club do the same things every meeting with no changes. Through the monotony, Lewis satirizes the way people of small towns do not like change and do not want change.

Consequently, many of the social gatherings and the town itself is monotonous and drab. It is a stripping away of all pretensions to civilized life which leaves main street a naked symbol of dullness, conventionality and sterility (Dooley 67). Put simply, the parties are unostentatious, irksome, and sedated. They do not offer anything different and always are the same. Carol tries to change that but all her efforts are futile.

In the winter Carol tries to organize skating and skiing parties with no success. Everyone just wants to conform (76-77). When Carols plans to try something new and different are shut down by the town, she realizes she has nothing to do. This fact further bothers Carol because she is a women with a working brain and no work. She is bored of life and what the town has to offer. The second day of the Kennicotts life in Gopher Prairie is spent by hunting prairie chickens and squirrels because there is nothing else to do (47-50).

With her we discover the village nothingness, a negative thing; an intellectual squalor; a swamp of prejudices and fears (Dooley 62). Small towns are not only dull, but they are also infested with curiosity. Such a society produces cheap automobiles, dollar watches and safety razors, and small buys men of the cash register and the comic film (Lewis 238). Always, west of Pittsburgh and often east of it, there is the same lumber yard, the same railroad station, the same Ford garage, and the same creamery, the same box-like houses and two-story shops (Lewis 239). Lewis is satirizing not only all towns, but specifically Gopher Prairie for its monotounous and dreariness. This characteristic is caused by the tradition and the fixture of small towns, specifically Gopher Prairie.

In many cases of small towns, Gopher Prairie is controlled by institutions. First of all the Thanatopsis club which is comprised of the towns most distinguished women is one of the places where Carol turns to improve the town (Grebstein 66). This study club disposes of many authors because facts about their life were considered and not their poetry itself. The women censor themselves and other from reading authors that might affect the town (125). Carol decides that she wants to join the other club called the Jolly Seventeen which is a middle-class club for younger married women.

They play bridge and are offended by any new ideas or differing opinions brought up by Carol (76-80) She decides that she wants to leave this club also so she takes matters into her own hands by making her own club to put on plays. She takes members in to act in a play, but of the fifteen that are interested, only a few of them are actually on time for rehearsals and care about that play. The play ends up to be horrible and no one seems to enjoy it (186). Then she tries to go to City Hall and look for ways to change and reform the town. She suggests an improvement project, but she is confronted with people without any desire for improvement (113-116).

Every organization that Carol turns to does not appeal to her ideals because none want change. She is the only one in the town who believes change is good and can have benefits. In addition, Will Kennicott also fits in with the town because of his conformity and desire to stay the same. Because of this, Carol and Will are set on a collision course. Carols conflict with the town has a counterpoint in another conflict involving her husband (Grebstein 67).

She eventually separates from Will, but learns that there are worse towns. On her return to Gopher Prairie, Carol finds the town somehow easier to accept. She participates in a number of concrete reforms and is herself finally accepted by the town. Carol feels that she may not have won the battle against mediocrity but that she has at least kept fighting (Maglin 112). The long, episodic, and almost plotless story of Carol Kennicott and her struggles with Gopher Prairie finally ends without solving many of her problems, but through the novel, Lewis satirizes the lives of small town people and their fight to conform and not let anyone change their morals or values. Thesis and Dissertations.


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