Carol moves to Washington and finds a job in the War Risk Insurance bureau. It ain't all that interesting, but Carol loves having a job and being in the public sphere of a big city. The truth is that she really doesn't miss Gopher Prairie.
Carol is also surprised to find that she's actually a little too conservative for some parts of big-city life. She realizes that Gopher Prairie has changed her since she first moved to it. Still, she loves the way that people in the city don't care what people think of them. Everyone's reputation seems to be stable and assured in a way that's not the case in Gopher Prairie.
Carol also finds lots of like-minded people who think Gopher Prairie is just a hickish backwater. She feels a little bad when she hears other people making fun of the place, though. She realizes that she doesn't dislike individuals but only the institutions that grind individuals into dull conformists.