Basing Gopher Prairie on his hometown of Sauk Centre, Minnesota, Lewis himself had a love-hate relationship with his community. Although he hated the narrow- mindedness and conservatism of the people, he knew and loved his hometown and found that he could not escape it completely. Similarly, when Carol attempts to leave Gopher Prairie later in the novel, she finds that she too cannot completely escape it mentally or physically.

Lewis narrates Chapter 20 humorously, portraying Uncle Whittier and Aunt Bessie as simple-minded busybodies who constantly irritate Carol with their questions and opinions. When Carol pretends to have a headache, they fuss about her, asking her how she feels every five minutes rather than leaving her alone in peace and quiet. Throughout the novel, Lewis paints these humorous portraits in order to make fun of and criticize certain types of people. His minor characters often appear as caricatures because he concentrates on only a few of their outward mannerisms instead of revealing their inner thoughts and feelings. Lewis's satire adds humor to the novel and counterbalances the mood of tension and hostility between Carol and the townspeople.