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Main Street | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Main Street | Chapter 17 | Summary



Carol's next project is inspired by a pleasant winter outing she and Kennicott take with the Goulds, the Clarks, they Dyers, Vida Sherwin, and others. They have a wonderful time drinking, playing charades, and amusing themselves as they seldom do at home. Carol happily suggests they continue the fun by founding the Gopher Prairie Dramatic Association, and her suggestion is met with great enthusiasm.

In preparation for her new adventure, Carol convinces Kennicott to take her to the Cosmos School of Music, Oratory, and Dramatic Art in Minneapolis to see four plays. When they arrive, Carol suddenly feels self-conscious and out of place, but they still manage to enjoy exploring the city together. The plays themselves hold only a mild interest for Kennicott, and even Carol isn't certain how much she likes some of them. But she returns home convinced that, although she herself can't visit the exotic places she saw portrayed, she will create them through her theatre group.


When Carol and Kennicott go to Minneapolis, it is clear that despite her efforts, Carol has been affected by Gopher Prairie. She feels uncomfortable in the city, almost as though she had not spent years in Chicago and St. Paul. Interestingly, Kennicott is not intimidated by the city at all. He is clearly comfortable with who and what he is, and it would never occur to him to feel unsophisticated.

After seeing the plays, Carol is wistful since she realizes she will never see the exotic places depicted in the plays. But then her romantic nature takes over, and she imagines she will be able to at least simulate those adventures through theater. By this time, readers are familiar with the pattern of how Carol's dreams always seem to end in disappointment. It is difficult to say whether she is naive, an eternal optimist, or someone simply unwilling or unable to learn from experience. But it is not likely that this latest venture will turn out differently.

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