Main Street

Quotes

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Well, good night. Sort of feels to me like it might snow tomorrow. Have to be thinking about putting up the storm windows pretty soon. Say did you notice whether the girl put that screwdriver back?

This seemingly insignificant passage about trivial, material topics—the weather, storm windows, a screwdriver—ends the novel. These words succinctly emphasize the fact that nothing has really changed for Carol throughout the course of the novel. While she dreams about how the world is progressing, Kennicott barely listens to her, speaking these mundane words instead. This final image from the novel, therefore, presents a picture of the way Carol's life really is, in contrast to the way she dreams life could be. It is important to note that Kennicott, not Carol, speaks the final words of the novel. Perhaps Lewis suggests that Carol is finally defeated by Gopher Prairie and her husband's more sensible outlook to life, or that Will is more correct to use a common sense approach to life.

Although Will has the last word, however, Main Street ends unresolved. The last image of the relationship between Will and Carol is one of an impasse, with neither really listening to the other. In the end, Carol does not fully surrender herself to her husband and to Gopher Prairie: she continues to daydream about making the Gopher Prairie a better place, and vows not to give up the fight against mediocrity and conformity. We may easily imagine that Carol will continue to daydream and struggle to find happiness in small-town America. The critic Mark Schorer has pointed out that this impasse represents Lewis's own mixed feelings about his background. While Lewis continued to believe in Midwestern values, he felt drawn to big-city culture and manners and maintained a love-hate relationship to Sauk Centre throughout his life.