full title Main Street: The Story of Carol Kennicott
author Sinclair Lewis
type of work Novel
time and place written 1919–1920, United States
date of first publication 1920
publisher Harcourt Brace
narrator The narrator is subjective, presenting the thoughts and motives of his characters (particularly Carol)
point of view The story is told almost entirely through Carol Kennicott's point of view. However, Lewis narrates Chapter 21 through Vida Sherwin's point of view and Chapter 25 through Dr. Will Kennicott's point of view. Furthermore, Lewis also effectively narrates Chapter 4 through the contrasting points of view of Carol Kennicott and Bea Sorenson.
tone Lewis uses a sarcastic tone throughout the novel to criticize small town characters and small town conformity. He uses satire to poke fun at his characters, employing biting humor and exaggeration. Furthermore, he depicts the events in a realistic manner and often uses minute observations of detail in order to capture everyday life.
setting (time) 1905–1920
setting (place) Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, provides the main setting of the novel. Secondary settings include the St. Paul, Minneapolis, Chicago, California, and Washington, D.C.
protagonists Carol and Will Kennicott
major conflict Carol's desire for individuality and social reform in Gopher Prairie conflict with the town's resistance to individuality and change; Carol and Will's marriage deteriorates
rising action Carol's constantly failing reform efforts; Carol's affair with Erik; the townspeople's forcing of Fern Mullins out of Gopher Prairie
climax Carol's decision to leave Gopher Prairie and move to Washington, D.C.
falling action Carol's experience in Washington and her decision to return to Gopher Prairie
themes The reality of small-town America; the individual vs. the community; disillusionment; the reality of marriage
motifs The pioneer past; Carol's memory of her father
symbols Gopher Prairie; the photographs of Gopher Prairie; trains, books, and nature
foreshadowing Lewis often casually mentions characters, such as Will Kennicott, or events, such as Vida's marriage, throughout the novel before he properly introduces the characters and events