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.


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.




Between 1905 and 1920. Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, provides the main setting of the novel. Secondary settings include the St. Paul, Minneapolis, Chicago, California, and Washington, D.C.


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

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


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