Main Street | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Main Street | Chapter 15 | Summary

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Summary

After their honest exchange, Carol finds herself "in love with her husband." With a newfound respect for what he does, Carol energetically puts herself in the role of "wife of a country physician." She becomes aware of just how hard he works, even telling Guy Pollock one day that the two of them are "hypercritical loafers," while her husband goes out and gets things done. She vows to do whatever she can to help Kennicott in his profession.

Her real education in what Kennicott does begins when he invites her to accompany him on some house calls. She sees the respect with which the farmers treat him, hears his comfortable conversations with them in German, and sees him generously defer payment when his patients are poor. She then develops something akin to hero-worship as she watches him calmly perform an amputation. For now, Carol tells herself, she is "gloriously content in her career as doctor's wife."

Analysis

Chapter 15 reveals more information about Kennicott and traces his wife's changing attitude toward him. Kennicott is shown to be a fine doctor, a generous human being, and unusually calm under pressure. Where Carol had once been dismissive of him, she now sees him as her hero, and herself as almost worthless in comparison. In fact, throughout the chapter, the narrator refers to Carol as "the doctor's wife," indicating she has given up some of her own independence to better serve her husband. It is the latest in her attempts to figure out her role in the community, and the "work" she is meant to do.

It may also be, however, that the role of doctor's wife is simply Carol's newest project, and that she is romanticizing her husband, his patients, and her own role in order to be more content in Gopher Prairie. For all her good intentions, she has shown herself to be someone who moves quickly from project to project, doing little in the way of planning, and quickly abandoning projects when they fail.

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