She was startled by the return of her father, startled by a sudden conviction that in this flaxen boy she had found the gray reticent judge who was divine love, perfect understanding. She debated it, furiously denied it, reaffirmed it, ridiculed it. Of one thing she was unhappily certain: there was nothing of the beloved father image in Will Kennicott.
This passage appears in the middle of Chapter 29 as Carol embarks on a romantic friendship with Erik. Carol's memory of her father, who died when she was thirteen, provides an important motif throughout the novel. For the most part, Lewis does not provide deep glimpses into the inner psychology of his characters; instead, he functions most of the time as a realist, nearly photographic writer by describing the surface appearance of things, places, and people. Literary critics have often remarked that even the main characters of Main Street are superficial and not well rounded. However, Carol's longing for her father and her desire to escape Gopher Prairie reveal much about her inner psychology. This passage reveals her unhappiness, her desire to return to her happy childhood, and her attempt to escape the dullness of life in Gopher Prairie. Throughout the novel, she attempts to mentally escape the town by absorbing herself in her books, reform projects, housework, and friendship with Erik. Her relationship with Erik further reflects her growing separation from Kennicott.