Kennicott, like M. Bovary, is a small town doctor who loves his wife but has no understanding of her basic desires. The minor characters are mostly well characterized as well; the poor farmers are drawn much more sympathetically than the townspeople. I could relate to Carol's struggles, the excitement at meeting people who initially seemed to be interested in the same things she was, the grasping at straws and ultimate disillusionment when she realizes that they are basically limited and superficial, only willing to go so far within the cultural limits of the town mentality.
Near the end, Lewis introduces the theme of "boosterism" which becomes the main emphasis of Babbit ; the latter novel is shown through the eyes of a "booster" rather than a rebel, although even he has his moment of rebellion. Both novels are written well, occasionally funny but ultimately depressing.
And this is a protagonist that I can identify with, both for a period of my life of three years, when I lived in a small town much like Gopher Prairie and had to suffer at the hands of the indigenous population, and now, when, for the last twelve years I have been placed among a group of barbarous individuals that are similar to some of the inhabitants of the home town of the author, which inspires the fictional GP in the novel Carol Milford is very open minded, progressive, creative and enthusiastic when she marries Doctor Will Kennicott.
And she will remain more or less determined to pursue her ideals and change as much as she can Main Street. But the reality of life after marriage, after meeting a community that, if not outright reactionary, proves at least conservative, is hard to cope with. Instead of being dragged down and letting herself become a housemaid, the protagonist tries to elevate the locals. But they are not just backward, at some moments they prove to be really mean and despicable in their acts. I refer to the moment when a teacher is expelled from the wonderful Gopher Prairie, innocent as she is. Well, of course, in the eyes of some pretentious, arrogant, uptight locals, the woman was sent by Satan.
But when she accepted to go out for a dance with the Weinstein of the town, she did not know what to expect.
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The man took whiskey and pressed her to drink- she only took the bottle to her lips without drinking- stole some alcohol, harassed his victim and once home, when his horrible mother attacked the girl, he lied and sustained he is the innocent casualty. But this is not a case where only this family proves to be outrageous, for, after the mother complains to the school board, they decide to punish the teacher even more, instead of taking a principled position and act according to what the town knew, which is that the man was a scoundrel and liar, they sent the victim away!!
Relatives of Will Kennicott move to the small town and the aunt thinks it is great to live in such a small place, where everyone knows what the others do and therefore, unlike in big cities, sinners cannot get away with their predicaments. The relationship between Carol and her husband is complicated and, even if he loves her, the feelings of the woman are unclear to her for some time and the spouse becomes repugnant during different periods.
If he seemed bold and encouraged her to come to his small town marry him and change the community when they were in the first phase of their relationship, later on, his demeanor looked out of date and he showed a lack of interest for culture, reading books and helping his spouse raise the level of their social circle. On the other hand, he is a complex, interesting character and his application to the work he does can be called a calling, his position as the only doctor available for a large area, during a period of World War I, saved many lives.
Will Kennicott can be compared with Doctor Bovary, for he is limited when compared with his wife and rather dull, responsible in large part for the interest she shows to Erik Valborg, a young man who dreams of being a Karl Lagerfeld…well, before the latter was born. When Erik is first introduced, I thought he is a gay character, with his love for clothes and apparent sensitivity and cultural inclinations.
He falls in love with Carol and she becomes a sort of mentor for him and then, for a time she thinks she is in love with the younger man. Will interferes just in time, proving that he has a good insight and he explains to his wife the psychology of her involvement. Furthermore, he depicts a future in which Carol would run away with Erik, live with him in a destitute shop, in a room at a back, with three children and a daily routine of washing, pressing the clothes that Erik would sell, care for the kids and husband, who would come in late from the shop, fall on the bed, after recriminating Carol, whom he will blame for the squalor and wretchedness of this terrible life.
Carol is convinced and terrified by this image and then travels to California with her husband and enjoys a departure from Gopher Prairie and its monsters. She even moves to Washington for a period, taking only her son Hugh with her, leaving the doctor in his small town. A masterpiece written by a genius who is the first American novelist to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature!
Jan 09, Andy Mathews rated it really liked it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Main Street and found it difficult to set the book down. Paul in the early 20th century. What made this book so captivating to me is its description of life on "Main Street, USA" in a small town in the ss. The reader is completely immersed into the setting and characters, to the point that there is a fair amount of outmoded slang that I had to look up on Wikipedia to see what it meant.
One of the themes of the novel is a woman's place in American society in the ss. Carol Kennicott, the protagonist in the novel, is an intelligent and capable young woman who marries a country doctor after a VERY brief period of courting at the outset of the novel. The rest of the novel is about Carol striving to find intrinsic satisfaction and purpose in her life in the new setting of Gopher Prairie, MN. Carol challenges societal and cultural norms throughout her struggle to find meaning and purpose in her life.
Sinclair Lewis describes the characters in such a way that I am anxious to see what happens to them next, and they are each quite unique in their descriptions, almost like caricatures. I would liken this book to 'Winesburg, Ohio' or 'The Magnificent Ambersons' in that there are so many different characters interacting with each other in ways essential to the plot, and the culture and society of the town that is already set in motion when our protagonist enters is like a powerful, driving force that cannot be stopped or easily redirected, respectively.
After reading this book, I read the biography and timeline at the end about the author - Sinclair Lewis. I found Sinclair to be a VERY interesting person, and I plan to come back and read Babbitt, which I have since seen referenced as a cultural touchstone to America and the middle class in the start of the 20th century. I especially found it interesting that Sinclair had spoken with Eugene V.
Debs on more than one occasion; a Socialist who lived in my hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana. Also, a LOT of Lewis' novels and short stories were adapted into plays and movies. I am anxious to see how many of the movies still survive. Nov 15, Maura rated it liked it. I read this because it was mentioned in another book in relation to Edith Wharton's work.
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So having never read anything by him, I decided to try it. Published almost years ago, it feels weirdly modern at times. Some of the slang and references are dated, of course, but the issues Lewis writes about are still with us today - the prejudices of small-minded people, the restrictions that are placed upon us by the society we live in, the effects of ignorance, the frustrations of people not allowe I read this because it was mentioned in another book in relation to Edith Wharton's work.
Some of the slang and references are dated, of course, but the issues Lewis writes about are still with us today - the prejudices of small-minded people, the restrictions that are placed upon us by the society we live in, the effects of ignorance, the frustrations of people not allowed to do meaningful work. Apr 12, G rated it it was amazing Shelves: book-club , classics , fiction , literature. This story was such a reminder of having grown up in the Midwest. What a way to travel back in time. Nov 21, Lily rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction , library.
I only read Main Street so far; I will get back to reading Babbitt sometime in the future. Sinclair Lewis is very expressive and descriptive in his narrative, so this was a very enjoyable read. Main Street can be a every man, every day novel. The ideas, problems, and solutions apply throughout history.
Feb 13, Realini rated it it was amazing Shelves: delightful , masterpiece , nobel. Sinclair Lewis is a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. And I am happy to have read other masterpieces, by the same genius: - Arrowsmith, Main Street and Elmer Gantry And I found the main character , George Babbitt as intriguing, complex, charming, pugnacious, human, controversial at times as Elmer Gantry and Arrowsmith. The book seemed at times to verge on comedy and it is really funny in many moments, but we also have tragedies taking place. Paul, George Babbitt's friend shots his wife, to give just one example.
There are conflicts between Babbitt and various other personages From his children to competitors, from his wife to a lover, almost everyone has moments of tension with the protagonist. Notwithstanding that, George Babbitt is one of the characters that I sympathize and identity with. He has a midlife crisis and although I like to think I am still young, I understand that and feel compassion. He pleads a strong case for higher taxes and even if I am a convinced supporter of the right, with a loathing for communists and any left wing exaggerating, I feel Richard Layard is right.
So I again feel supportive when the conservative Babbitt becomes a liberal. Well, more or less George Babbitt is a pillar of the business community of Zenith. He is an acclaimed orator, a solid friend and a defender of values. And yet, when the members of the newly created League of Citizens for the Right Values press him to join, Babbitt refuses. At least for a while. When he sees that business is bad as a result of his refusal, he has to throw in the towel.
There are quite a few moments when the integrity, the moral profile of the hero is not that of a role model. In some ways, the idiosyncrasies and shortcomings of the main character make him more endearing. But he has some major failures and flaws. He has a heated argument and then he fires an employee that was indeed dishonest and unethical.
Babbitt faces blackmail, but alas, the incriminating evidence is also pointing towards a jail sentence for both the realtor and his employees if the truth comes out. Babbitt and his business partner in one particular deal have not just double crossed, but triple crossed other participants in the transaction.
And finally, Babbitt is cheating on his wife and gets involved with a provocative group. Other Sports. Women Fashion. Men Fashion. Men's Shoes. Women's Shoes. Kid Fashion. Watch - Jewelry. Seller watches prestige. Family sound. Computer, network. Other electronics. Functional foods.
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Lewis: Main Street and Babbitt (Library of America)
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