On her first day in Gopher Prairie, Carol goes for a walk to inspect the town. She covers the entirety of the small town on foot in thirty-two minutes. Most of the buildings and houses on Main Street appear haphazardly constructed. The Minniemashie House, the town's hotel and "fine-dining" establishment, has flyspecked windows, dirty floors, and stained tablecloths. Carol sees a cat sleeping on some lettuce in a grocery store window. The ugliness of the town unnerves her. When she returns home, however, she only tells her husband that the town looks "very interesting."

Another young lady, Bea Sorenson, arrives in Gopher Prairie on the same day. However, Bea comes from a farm, not a larger city. Bored with farm life, she has decided to find a job in Gopher Prairie. She walks around town at the same time Carol does. Unlike Carol, Bea feels awestruck by everything she sees, as she has never visited a town as large as Gopher Prairie.

Sam Clark holds a party to for Carol and Will at which Carol meets several townspeople who allegedly represent the town's "smart young set." Several guests boast to Carol about the greatness of the town, informing her several times that the allegedly notable automobile manufacturer Percy Bresnahan was born and raised in Gopher Prairie.

Carol feels uncomfortable throughout the party. Finding the conversation dull, she tries to be entertaining by keeping up a frivolous and somewhat shocking conversation. While the others appear entertained, they do not join her efforts to be amusing. Instead, Sam Clark invites a couple of guests to perform their individual stunts as they do at every party. When Carol tries discussing important social issues such as the labor movement, she learns that the people of Gopher Prairie do not approve of unions and profit sharing. Privately, Kennicott advises her to watch what she says because the townspeople are very conservative. A few days later, the town newspaper publishes an account of the party.

One day, Kennicott takes Carol along on a hunting trip. Carol finds the countryside and farmlands more beautiful than Main Street. She also begins to take pride in her role as housewife. She hires Bea Sorenson as a maid but treats her like a friend. One afternoon, Vida Sherwin, the town's high school teacher, visits Carol. Vida declares that the town needs people like Carol. She also tells Carol that some people in town, including herself and the lawyer Guy Pollock, share Carol's interests. Happy to find others she can talk to, Carol invites Guy and Vida to supper and likes Mr. Pollock immediately because he is one of the few people who does not talk her ear off about how wonderful Gopher Prairie is.

Carol redecorates her house, spending a great deal of time and money. She paints the parlor blue and yellow and decorates it with Japanese ornaments she orders from Minneapolis. The refurnishing of the house attracts much attention. The widow Mrs. Bogart, a neighbor, visits Carol to look at he renovations. Very religious and rather stingy, Mrs. Bogart comments on Carol's extravagance and states that she and her husband should attend church more often. Carol becomes more conscious about her spending. When she discovers that the men of Gopher Prairie make their wives beg for money for their household expenses, she asks Kennicott for a regular allowance. Kennicott agrees to give her money of her own.