Sunday, March 13, 2011

Main Street

I just finished reading Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. This is a classic I've always wanted to read, but never got it done. It was free through ibooks so I downloaded it and read it on my iphone.

I found the book a fascinating take on the agony so many, especially women, faced in the early 1900's. They moved from the east, from cities, from society, and settled in upstart, unkempt communities filled with prejudice, gossip, small-town thinking, ugliness, and unending hard work. Anything and anyone who did not fit into their little "mold" was disparaged and ridiculed. Though I grew up a half century later, I could see that many of the shackles spoken of in Main Street were still alive and well in my main street.

Thankfully, many of us kicked against the "norm" and pushed for a different type of thinking. In my little corner of the world, at that time, it was a travesty to go to a non-Lutheran church, to believe in equality of all races and both genders, to wear pants off the farm, to want to travel to other countries, or to want a career other than teacher, nurse or secretary.

Oh, how the world has changed...especially in the past 100 years! But ... is it better? Or have the issues, the prejudices, the lack of acceptance, the smallness just moved around? Rather than tight family units with a defined set of mores all must adhere to, do we now have tight ideological units that are superior to all others? Do we still try to make others think and believe and act just like us? And when they don't, do we disparage and ridicule them?

Sometimes I think we haven't changed that much at all....

1 comment:

  1. Sinclair Lewis was a Socialist, maybe even a Communist. ;-) Social Justice was his thing. Of course, his books did help shed light on things which helped lead to necessary reforms -- much like Abolitionist books did before the Civil War.

    Happiness is relative. It's arrogant to assume that women from earlier times were "unhappy" based on our own feelings on a subject. Like you said, the chances are pretty good that modern women aren't any happier than women from earlier times, in spite of our freedoms.

    However, now that I've got my freedoms, I'm not willing to give them up.