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Three years before the civic-minded Carol Kennicott came to life in Main Street, Una Golden was confronting the male dinosaurs of business. Like Carol, the heroine of The Job is one of Sinclair Lewis’s most fully realized creations and was his first controversial novel. A “working girl” in New York City, Una Golden—caught in the dilemmas of marriage or career, husband or office, birth control or motherhood—is the prototype of the businesswoman of popular and literary culture.
Captain Lew Golden would have saved any foreign observer a great deal of trouble in studying America. He was an almost perfect type of the petty small–town middle–class lawyer. He lived in Panama, Pennsylvania. He had never been “captain” of anything except the Crescent Volunteer Fire Company, but he owned the title because he collected rents, wrote insurance, and meddled with lawsuits.
He carried a quite visible mustache–comb and wore a collar, but no tie. On warm days he appeared on the street in his shirt–sleeves, and discussed the comparative temperatures of the past thirty years with Doctor Smith and the Mansion House ‘bus–driver. He never used the word “beauty” except in reference to a setter dog—beauty of words or music, of faith or rebellion, did not exist for him. He rather fancied large, ambitious, banal, red–and–gold sunsets, but he merely glanced at them as he straggled home, and remarked that they were “nice.” He believed that all Parisians, artists, millionaires, and socialists were immoral. His entire system of theology was comprised in the Bible, which he never read, and the Methodist Church, which he rarely attended; and he desired no system of economics beyond the current platform of the Republican party. He was aimlessly industrious, crotchety but kind, and almost quixotically honest.
He believed that “Panama, Pennsylvania, was good enough for anybody.”