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Main Street | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Main Street | Chapter 2 | Summary



At a dinner hosted by her friends the Marburys, Carol meets a good-looking and good-natured doctor named Will Kennicott (referred to as Kennicott throughout the story), a man several years older than she. Kennicott comes from the small town of Gopher Prairie, and regales Carol with tales of the town's many attributes. These include seven miles of cement sidewalks and "two of the dandiest lakes you ever saw." Carol ventures to say that a doctor like he could "transform a whole community if he wanted to," and Kennicott is impressed. He thinks she could be just the woman to bring change to Gopher Prairie, because she expresses ideas without losing her feminine charm, as often happens to women in those "movements." The two begin a courtship, and Carol finds herself intrigued by Kennicott's small town.


Carol responds best to people who are impressed by her, or are most like her. Once a good impression is made, she does not look much deeper. Once Kennicott begins admiring her, he changes in her eyes from a rather soft-looking man with an irregularly shaped nose, to someone with a solid chest and a "virile" nose. She ignores his offhand remark about "these movements," by which he means the women's movements Carol actually admires. And as he continues to praise her, she doesn't seem to realize that, despite asking her to come help change Gopher Prairie, he is proud of every aspect of it, including the people who live there. His comments about Carol changing the town may therefore be more to win the girl, than to find a way to reform Gopher Prairie. Slowly, though, Carol allows herself to be persuaded.

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