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Main Street | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Main Street | Chapter 12 | Summary



When summer arrives, Carol and Kennicott buy a summer cottage, something all the Gopher Prairie residents have. For a few weeks social jealousies and gossip are forgotten in the simple joys of summer. When fall returns, Carol tries to hold on to her brief happiness by suggesting that her friends continue their outdoor activities, and then by starting a "salon" for intelligent discussion. Both ideas meet with failure.

Carol meets Champ Perry, one of the original pioneers who founded Gopher Prairie. Her romantic spirit takes over once again, and she decides the cure for Gopher Prairie is to return to the sturdiness and integrity of its founders. She seeks out Perry and his wife to ask for their advice on how Gopher Prairie can be reborn. Their answers range from getting back to the true Word of God and a belief in heaven and hell, to hanging all socialists, to acknowledging that rich people are wicked. Carol leaves, her hero-worship gone.


Readers once again witness Carol move through her usual quick cycle of inspiration and disappointment. As always, she draws happiness in nature and the unspoiled country, and is even happier when she finds her neighbors similarly affected. But rather than just enjoy the experience, she turns it into her next reform efforts. When those fail, she begins to romanticize the first settlers of Gopher Prairie, believing their simpler values and unspoiled life must hold the secret she has been after. However, she finds these pioneers—represented by the Perrys—are every bit as narrow-minded and unwilling to change as the rest of Gopher Prairie.

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