After her conversation with Bresnahan, Carol looks at Kennicott more critically. She realizes that he does not dress well and has uncouth table manners. The unbearable summer heat makes everyone in town very touchy, especially Carol. One evening, Kennicott casually informs her that his friends are coming over to play poker. After everyone leaves, Carol tells her husband that his friends have rude manners. Carol and Kennicott have an argument and fail to make peace. The next day, Carol asks for a room of her own. Though Aunt Bessie tells Carol that married couples should not have separate bedrooms, Carol learns that Mr. and Mrs. Westlake have separate rooms. She decides to visit Mrs. Westlake and becomes her friend.
When the maid, Oscarina, leaves the Kennicotts, Carol cannot find a good maid to take her place and ends up doing most of the housework herself. Aunt Bessie and other women in town exhaust Carol with their opinions on housework. When Kennicott mentions that they should build a new house, she becomes excited and tries to make suggestions for a beautiful, original house. Kennicott, however, insists on building a house that looks exactly like every other house in Gopher Prairie. One day in July, he offers to take her to the neighboring town of Joralemon to visit friends. Carol feels disappointed with Joralemon because the town looks and feels exactly like Gopher Prairie.
Kennicott broods over Carol's highbrow attitude. He feels that she does not appreciate him and muses on the fact that some women could still find him attractive. However, he knows that Carol is the most beautiful girl he knows and he does not want to hurt her. One day, Maud Dyer comes into Kennicott's office complaining of a backache. Although she asks for an examination, he tells her that her symptoms are imaginary. They both agree that Maud needs to travel and be away from her husband, Dave, for a while. However, Maud tells Kennicott that her husband would never give her the money or permission to travel alone. She emphasizes how lonely she feels and asks Kennicott to visit her tonight to keep her company, adding that her husband will be away. Kennicott promises to visit her.
When Kennicott comes home, he plays with Hugh and feels repentant for being tempted by Maud Dyer. That night, the tailor, Nat Hicks, visits Kennicott and invites him to a party with women to relive their bachelor days. Kennicott refuses. Carol, however, disappoints him by acting coldly to him all night. When he asks her to keep him company that night, she refuses. Then, Kennicott tells Carol that he has to visit a patient and goes to see Maud Dyer. The next day, Carol finds her husband quiet and reflective, and she imagines that he is simply thinking about how the grass needs cutting.
Carol and Hugh love visiting the Bjornstams, and Carol views their house as a refuge where she can go to escape. Bjornstam and Bea treat their boys with equal love. They enjoy Carol's visits because, as a poor couple, few townspeople ever visit them. One day, Bjornstam tells Carol that he plans to leave Gopher Prairie because the townspeople will never respect him and Bea. He loves his family and great deal and buys Bea a phonograph.
Carol visits the Bjornstams again and finds Bea and Olaf sick with fever. Dr. Kennicott diagnoses their ailment as typhoid, which they have contracted from bad well water. Carol agrees to stay with them to nurse Bea and Olaf. She finds the work exhausting, but loves her friends too much to even think about complaining.