Main Street

by: Sinclair Lewis

Important Quotations Explained

Her cheek near his sleeve, she studied a dozen village pictures. They were streaky; she saw only trees, shrubbery, a porch indistinct in leafy shadows. But she exclaimed over the lakes: dark water reflecting wooded bluffs, a flight of ducks, a fisherman in shirt sleeves and a wide straw hat, holding up a string of croppies.

This passage occurs at the end of Chapter 2 when Kennicott proposes marriage to Carol and asks her to move to Gopher Prairie. As Kennicott shows Carol pictures of Gopher Prairie, Lewis uses the photographs to reference his own writing. After all, we could say that Lewis uses a photographic style of writing by realistically and thoroughly describing a person or object's appearance. The fact that the pictures are "streaky" and "indistinct" symbolizes Carol's lack of association from Gopher Prairie. At this point in the novel, she has never visited Gopher Prairie and possesses no personal ties or memories to the town. When Kennicott shows her pictures of the town again in Washington, D.C., however, her relationship to the town has changed. When she sees the pictures of the town for the second time, she recognizes her own house and porch and the faces of people and places she knows. Furthermore, the two episodes in which Kennicott shows her pictures of Gopher Prairie provide the novel with a rhythm or circular quality: Carol moves to Gopher Prairie, leaves, and then returns. It is also important to note in this passage that Carol admires the pictures of nature. When she moves to Gopher Prairie, she finds a beauty in the countryside that she does not find in town.