Sinclair Lewis on Carol's revolt
A hundred years after Sinclair Lewis's birth, 65 years after his ``Main Street'' (1920), the conclusion of that novel still has a forward thrust -- though Carol Kennicott, the small-town rebel, has mixed feelings in this closing dialogue with her husband. ``They're too much for me,'' Carol sighed to Kennicott. ``I've been thinking about getting up an annual Community Day, when the whole town would forget feuds and go out and have sports and a picnic and a dance. But Bert Tybee (why did you ever elect him mayor?) -- he's kidnapped my idea. He wants the Community Day, but he wants to have some politician `give an address.' That's just the stilted sort of thing I've tried to avoid. He asked Vida, and of course she agreed with him.''
Kennicott considered the matter while he wound the clock and they tramped up-stairs.
``Yes, it would jar you to have Bert butting in,'' he said amiably. ``Are you going to do much fussing over this Community stunt? Don't you ever get tired of fretting and stewing and experimenting?''
``I haven't even started. Look!'' She led him to the nursery door, pointed at the fuzzy brown head of her daughter. ``Do you see that object on the pillow? Do you know what it is? It's a bomb to blow up smugness. If you Tories were wise, you wouldn't arrest anarchists; you'd arrest all these children while they're asleep in the cribs. Think what that baby will see and meddle with before she dies in the year 2000! She may see an industrial union of the whole world, she may see aeroplanes going to Mars.''
``Yump, probably be changes all right,'' yawned Kennicott.
She sat on the edge of his bed while he hunted through his bureau for a collar which ought to be there and persistently wasn't.
``I'll go on, always. And I am happy. But this Community Day makes me see how thoroughly I'm beaten.''
``That darn collar certainly is gone for keeps,'' muttered Kennicott and, louder, ``Yes, I guess you -- I didn't quite catch what you said, dear.''
She patted his pillows, turned down his sheets, as she reflected:
``But I have won in this: I've never excused my failures by sneering at my aspirations, by pretending to have gone beyond them. I do not admit that Main Street is as beautiful as it should be! I do not admit that Gopher Prairie is greater or more generous than Europe! I do not admit that dish-washing is enough to satisfy all women! I may not have fought the good fight, but I have kept the faith.''
``Sure. You bet you have,'' said Kennicott. ``Well, good night. Sort of feels to me like it might snow tomorrow. Have to be thinking about putting up the storm-windows pretty soon. Say, did you notice whether the girl put that screw-driver back?''
Note: Lewis's hometown, Sauk Centre, Minn., has long replaced criticism with honor for its satirical son, as suggested in the recent ``Corner on Main Street,'' by Al Tingley, an owner and restorer of the Palmer House Hotel, where Lewis once worked -- and where the Sinclair Lewis Foundation meets in the Minniemashie Room.