Carol sits alone in her house having no clue what to do. She knows there's a meeting of the Jolly Seventeen women's club, but she can't bring herself to go and be phony around them. Instead, she wishes that someone would come see her.
Carol makes tea for herself and a visitor, since she has faith someone will call on her. But no one does, and the tea goes cold. Carol is bitterly disappointed.
Carol asks Bea about her day off when she gets back. She envies Bea for being so satisfied with everything around her and decides that she's going to try to create change in her own home before she tries it on Gopher Prairie. She decides she's going to get her husband Will to like poetry.
The next day, Carol goes for a walk around Gopher Prairie and wanders by a working-class slum called "Swede Hollow." She feels more connected to reality when she's around these poor people.
Carol runs into Miles Bjornstam, the town handyman. Miles speaks to her plainly and criticizes the phoniness of the town. Carol is uncomfortable but also exhilarated to have someone to talk to about this subject. He invites her into his shack, which strikes Carol as improper, but she says yes, anyway.
Carol looks around Miles's shack and sees how poor he is compared to her husband Will. But Miles is not self-conscious at all in front of her; he truly doesn't care what people think, and Carol admires him for it.
After Carol gets home that day, her husband Will returns from his country trip. The next time Carol heads into the town, everyone acts like they're really happy to see her. It turns out that just a few days' absence is enough to make them want her back.
Carol sticks by her resolution to make her husband Will interested in poetry. She sits down with him one night and reads some to him… but it's no use. Will isn't the poetic type, and it's clear that he's suffering just for her sake.
In the end, Will and Carol just decide to go to a movie, where Carol finds herself laughing just as much as Will at a stupid comedy.
The next time she goes to a meeting of the Jolly Seventeen, Carol avoids saying anything controversial, and she volunteers to have the club's next meeting at her house.