Main Street Essay, Research Paper
Sinclair Lewis was a fagot male child, ever an foreigner, lonely. Once he had
become celebrated, he began to proclaim an official position of his young person that
represents possibly an grownup want for a unoffending life that ne’er was. He was
Sinclair Lewis ( Hutchisson 8 ) . In the old ages from 1914 to 1951 Sinclair Lewis, a
royal poinciana, driven, self-devouring mastermind from Sauk Centre, Minnesota, aspired
in twenty two novels to do all America his state. ( Hutchisson 9 ) . Although
his star has now waned, he was in his clip the best-known and the most
controversial of all authors and through a figure of books singular for their
satiric bite and for their ambivalent love and hate of the land and the people he
took as his sphere, he helped to do Americans known to themselves and to
the universe. Lewis was a descendent of the line of Cooper, Emerson, Thoreau,
Whitman and Twain ( Mencken 17 ) . Like them, he railed against the insidious
effects of mass civilization and the standardisation of manners and thoughts. Lewis
dreamed of a better America and in his best novels he turned the visible radiation of his
critical regard upon our most sacred establishments including the little town. He
became the first American author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature for his
plants on American life ( Mencken 19 ) .
Many of Lewis? s books had relevancy to his life turning up. He grew up in
a little town with all the little town qualities and wrote largely satirically about
them. One of many books that satirize little towns is Main Street. In this novel,
many subjects are presented such as the usage of sarcasm as an impulse to reform, household
life of the period as portrayed in the novel, and World War I and its impact on the
chief streets of America. During the period Lewis wrote the novel, World War I
sparked in Europe. During this clip the United States was pushed into the war
and many soldiers were needed and drafted by the United States military. This
clip affected many immature male childs and many households. It besides brought on a new
feeling of patriotism and nationalism non merely in the large metropoliss, but besides in the little
towns. Some of these features were satirized by Sinclair Lewis in this
book. Much of what goes on during Sinclair Lewis? s life goes into his books
including his matrimonies, of import day of the months, and early life. Small towns grew
legion across the state because during this period many immigrants
traveled west. Small towns are much different than large metropoliss because they have
different values, ends, and ethical motives. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis satirizes the
little town lives and values of Americans through the idealistic position of Carl
Carol Kennicott? s position of Gopher Prairie, the little town, is skewed
because of her yesteryear and her colored manner of looking at it. Much has been written
and said about Carol. She is Lewis himself in feminine pretense, as he admitted in
1922: ? … [ She is ] ever fumbling for something she isn? T capable of obtaining,
ever dissatisfied … intolerants of her milieus, yet missing any clearly
defined vision of what she wants to make or be? ( Schorer 273 ) . Carol Kennicott is
more advanced and rational than any of the people in the town. She
alumnuss from Blodgett College, a spiritual establishment, which protects its
pupils? from the evil of the universities? and censors them from
whatever they do non desire them to larn ( 2 ) . Carol? s foremost run intoing with the
townsfolk is a different experience for her. Because of her intelligence and
edification, she brings up subjects such as labour brotherhoods and profit-sharing ( 42 ) .
The townspeople react otherwise as one of the conversationist says, ? All this
net income sharing and public assistance work and insurance and old-age pension is merely
stuff? ( 43 ) . She is interested in sociology and wants to take part in
small town betterment. ( 3 ) . ? She did non yet know the huge ability of the universe
to be casually barbarous and proudly dull, but if she should of all time larn those depressing
powers, her eyes would ne’er go sullen or heavy or rheumily amative? ( 2 ) .
This quotation mark demostrates how Carol is put into a bad state of affairs because of her
milieus and how she has to alter the town if she wants to be fulfilled
Furthermore, Carol besides wants alteration and she wants to be the one who
makes it in Gopher Prairie where she lives. She goes at that place and wants to do it
reasonably and modern without cognizing much about it herself ( Dooley 63 ) . She thinks
that because of her instruction, she has to do alteration and make something to
carry through her life. Using the town as a agency to make this, is a manner that Carol does it.
She besides says no to a matrimony proposal because she wants to be free from the
ironss of matrimony ( 24 ) . Will Kennicott is received with unfastened weaponries because he
offers her a opportunity to do that alteration by shacking in a little town with him.
Equally of import is that Carol is an orphan since the age of 13. Her
childhood is the clip period when she learns to be independent which makes her
free. Bing given excessively much freedom is non ever a good thing for a immature
individual: ? … she is unprompted, undiplomatic, and ignorant of complications? ( Dooley
62 ) . Because of Carol? s early life and her instruction, she has a skewed manner of
looking at the town and how she wants to alter it. Although she wants to
alter the little town, she does non recognize the feature of a little town.
Consequently, there are different ethical motives, values, and manners in a little
town. Small towns tend to dish the dirt more than regular towns and knock others
who do non belong in that town. For illustration, Carol overhears her neighbours Cy
Bogart and Earl Haydock, teenage delinquents, say, ? … Ma says she? s stuck-up
as snake pit. Ma? s ever speaking about her? ( 92 ) . Earl besides adds, ? They? re all
express joying up their arms at her? ( 93 ) . Carol comes to a realisation that people
have been knocking her alternatively of look up toing her. This realisation is a immense blow
to Carol because she believes her purposes and actions have been
misinterpreted. She needs to be more involved and fit in better with the people of
the town and seek to understand them so she is non be every bit lonely as she is. This
alteration would besides assist her regain her assurance.
In consequence, Carol joins the Jolly Seventeen which is for immature married
adult females and is the societal position of Gopher Prairie ( 76 ) . They have a meeting to
do Carol a member and start to play games. The topic of amahs comes up
and they talk about how they get paid excessively much and are? … thankless, all that
category of people? ( 78 ) . Carol puts herself into the conversation by demoing regard
for her amah, but the other adult females are offended and assail Carol by inquiring Carol,
? Don? T you think it? s hard on the remainder of us when you pay so much? ( 78 ) . All of the
adult females verbally attack a new member of the nine and onslaught her positions because
she does non conform to them. Subsequently that twenty-four hours, she gets into another statement
because the librarian believes the intent of a library is to continue books ( 80 ) .
The bibliothec does non even listen to her and pushes her off to the side. Then
subsequently Carol decides to fall in the adult females? s survey nine, Thanatopsis. She is voted
into rank and makes a few suggestions about future plans. This clip
Carol brings up the issue of charity for the hapless of the community. Once once more
Carol is ganged up on by all the adult females. Carol suggests that the adult females sew
apparels for the hapless, but Mrs. Stowbody, snaps, ? Celestial spheres and Earth, they have
more clip than we make? ( 126 ) . After that Carol suggests that the Bible should non
be the lone book that is read and? everybody cleared their polite pharynx? ( 127 ) .
They merely ignored her remark and kept traveling on with the meeting as if non
admiting Carol. Carol is determined to be involved in the town and do a
alteration in it.
As a consequence of Carol? s desire to do alteration, she creates the Gopher
Prairie Dramatic Association. The first of many jobs that occur is merely seven
come out of the 15 in the association? s foremost and most of import meeting
( 186 ) . As Carol made suggestions to what sort of drama would be put on, Ella
Stowbody along with others did non listen and sat back because they believed
their thoughts were better than Carols ( 186 ) . Carol had bought many things
including the lighting equipment, pigment and wood, and furniture yet no 1 else
took the drama earnestly. As Carol says, ? They gaily c
ame in half an hr tardily? and
made up alibis such as? Dave wants me to sit in a fire hook game? or? … afraid the
moistness might get down my odontalgia? ( 186 ) . Many did non even bother to name and
do up an alibi. Their discourtesy and atrocious promptness was caused by the
histrions and actresses non liking Carol and her non-conformity. The drama turned out
to be a floating-point operation and the towns chitchat and talk started to trouble oneself Carol. She was non
the lone individual affected by the towns manners and ethical motives.
As a consequence of Miles Bjornstam? s married woman and boy being killed by imbibing
contaminated H2O, Miles was the lone 1 left to fault because he did non
supply the household with clean H2O ( 280 ) . The town demoralized him by demoing
small understanding for Miles. As he moved off to Canada, ? There was talk of
collaring him, of siting him on a rail? and they called him a? … blasphemer and a
treasonist? ( 285 ) . During a clip of demand for MIles, the little town perceptual experience is to
fault person to cover with a decease. These sorts of ethical motives expressed by the
town are all throughout the novel and their manners are non similar with what large
metropolis folks perceive as good manners.
At a party served by Carol, the cats ask for nutrient. When they are served
they do non even acknowledge her and she says, ? Your friends have the manners
of a saloon? ( Lewis 260 ) . This absolutely illustrates and summarizes how the
people in little towns chitchat, stereotype, and do non accept anything that is non
harmonizing to their ain regulations and criterions. This leads to Gopher Prairie holding
job within their ain society.
In fact, there are many different state of affairss that occur in little towns that
would non happen in other topographic points. For illustration in the first party, the work forces and
adult females divide and speak of different issues ( 42 ) . This illustration shows how the
adult females and work forces are different in what they talk about because of their conformance.
Carol wants to cognize what the work forces talk approximately, as the other adult females? … talk of
kids, illness, and cooks … ? ( 41 ) . She is an castaway because she is bored
by irrelevant and uncomplex conversations. During this clip, Carol brings up
advanced subject and is shocked at the work forces and adult females because they are non
used to such subjects being brought up. Subsequently that dark Will Kennicott Tells Carol
that she has to be? … more careful about flooring common people? ( 45 ) . He turns out to be
merely like the townsfolk that live in Gopher Prairie because he wants his married woman to
conform to the ways of a town party. Carol does non accept this conformance and
decides to hold her ain party. She wants her party to glow and be excessive.
? I? ll make? em lively, if nil else. I? ll make? em halt sing parties as
committee-meetings? ( 64 ) . She manages an antique square dance, a solo
by Raymie Wutherspoon, and a bare-knuckle game affecting wolves and
shepherds, the invitees? places being sheep. The expansive flood tide of the eventide is
the paper Chinese masquerade costumes for a Chinese concert, with taboret
and combs for membranophones and fifes. This party is a large alteration for the townsfolk
and they have fun and bask it, but the undermentioned hebdomad a party is held where the
group reverts to stunts and dull conversation one time once more. Carol tries to alter
the societal conditions of the town, but her attempts give in to conformance. ? Her
efforts to excite some merriment are met with embarrassment and ridicule, and
killed by an firm penchant for things as usual? ( Grebstein 65 ) .
After Carol realizes that people have been knocking alternatively of look up toing
her, she becomes lonely and goes back to the Jolly Seventeen nine as a consequence.
Her yearning for company has forced her to do grants and to be
more diplomatic. ? She had no sentiments on anything more polemic than woollen
unio-suits … ? ( 108 ) . Because she is lonely and has no topographic point to turn, she is forced
to travel against her ain ethical motives and be a conformist because of the societal
conditions of Gopher Prairie. Of class the other adult females like this alteration in
Carol as one of the member says, ? Isn? T dude that your have settled down to
being homey with us? ( 109 ) . The people in the nine do the same things every
run intoing with no alterations. Through the humdrum, Lewis satirizes the manner people
of little towns do non like alteration and do non desire alteration.
Consequently, many of the societal assemblages and the town itself is
humdrum and drab. ? It is a depriving off of all pretenses to educate life
which leaves chief street a bare symbol of obtuseness, conventionality and asepsis?
( Dooley 67 ) . Put merely, the parties are unpretentious, boring, and sedated.
They do non offer anything different and ever are the same. Carol tries to
alteration that but all her attempts are ineffectual. In the winter Carol tries to form
skating and skiing parties with no success. Everyone merely wants to conform
( 76-77 ) . When Carol? s programs to seek something new and different are shut down by
the town, she realizes she has nil to make. This fact farther fusss Carol
because she is a adult females with a working encephalon and no work. She is bored of life
and what the town has to offer.
The 2nd twenty-four hours of the Kennicott? s life in Gopher Prairie is spent by runing
prairie poulets and squirrels because there is nil else to make ( 47-50 ) . ? With
her we discover the small town void, ? a negative thing; an rational sordidness ;
a swamp of biass and frights? ? ( Dooley 62 ) . Small towns are non merely dull,
but they are besides infested with wonder. Such a society produces inexpensive
cars, dollar tickers and safety razors, and? little bargains work forces? of? the hard currency
registry and the amusing movie? ( Lewis 238 ) . ? Always, west of Pittsburgh and frequently
E of it, there is the same lumber pace, the same railway station, the same Ford
garage, and the same creamery, the same box-like houses and two-story stores?
( Lewis 239 ) . Lewis is satirising non merely wholly towns, but specifically Gopher Prairie
for its monotounous and boringness. This characteristic is caused by the tradition
and the fixture of little towns, specifically Gopher Prairie.
In many instances of little towns, Gopher Prairie is controlled by establishments.
First of all the Thanatopsis nine which is comprised of the towns most
distinguished adult females is one of the topographic points where Carol turns to better the town
( Grebstein 66 ) . This survey nine disposes of many writers because facts about
their life were considered and non their poesy itself. The adult females censor
themselves and other from reading writers that might impact the town ( 125 ) .
Carol decides that she wants to fall in the other nine called the Jolly Seventeen
which is a middle-class nine for younger married adult females. They play span and
are offended by any new thoughts or differing sentiments brought up by Carol ( 76-80 )
She decides that she wants to go forth this nine besides so she takes affairs into her
ain custodies by doing her ain nine to set on dramas. She takes members in to move
in a drama, but of the 15 that are interested, merely a few of them are really on
clip for dry runs and attention about that drama. The drama ends up to be atrocious and
no 1 seems to bask it ( 186 ) . Then she tries to travel to City Hall and expression for
ways to alter and reform the town. She suggests an betterment undertaking, but
she is confronted with people without any desire for betterment ( 113-116 ) .
Every organisation that Carol turns to does non appeal to her ideals because none
want alteration. She is the lone 1 in the town who believes alteration is good and
can hold benefits.
In add-on, Will Kennicott besides fits in with the town because of his
conformance and desire to remain the same. Because of this, Carol and Will are set
on a hit class. Carol? s struggle with the town has a counterpoint in another
struggle affecting her hubby ( Grebstein 67 ) . She finally separates from
Will, but learns that there are worse towns. On her return to Gopher Prairie,
Carol finds the town someway easier to accept. She participates in a figure of
concrete reforms and is herself eventually accepted by the town.
Carol feels that she may non hold won the conflict against averageness but
that she has at least unbroken combat ( Maglin 112 ) . The long, episodic, and about
plotless narrative of Carol Kennicott and her battles with Gopher Prairie eventually ends
without work outing many of her jobs, but through the novel, Lewis satirizes the
lives of little town people and their battle to conform and non allow anyone alteration
their ethical motives or values.