Main Street | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Main Street | Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

After Bresnahan's visit, Carol becomes doubly impatient with both the town and Kennicott. She and her husband argue over everything from his friends to the new income tax. Eventually, Carol moves into her own bedroom in order to escape him. She finds Mrs. Westlake has done the same thing, and begins to confide in the woman.

Carol is unhappy with her house as well, especially since she has not been able to find dependable help since Bea left, and has been forced to take over much of the household duties herself. Kennicott, hoping to please her, revives his idea about building a new house, now that he has money. At first, she is excited and dreams of a beautiful little cottage. But her husband simply wants a duplicate of Sam Clark's house—square, painted cream, with a good furnace. Carol is suddenly terrified as she realizes she would be trapped in a house she hates for the rest of her life. Her enthusiasm disappears, and Kennicott eventually drops his plans.

Analysis

This chapter focuses on the deteriorating relationship between Carol and Kennicott, symbolized by their separate bedrooms. The two-bedroom solution actually mirrors a very common arrangement for the times, however. Mixed messages about sex often meant it was easier for a couple to maintain separate rooms. In this case, though, Carol's decision to set up her own room follows years of sharing a bed with Kennicott, so it is a sign of her growing distaste for him. Surprised and saddened, he also recognizes the implications.

Lewis does not seem to overtly side with Carol or Will in this situation. He is simply showing a type of married couple that was all too common: the wife who has romantic visions of her partner and what her life should be, and the husband who looks only for stability and simple pleasures. This difference is further reinforced in their conflict over the house. Carol pictures a storybook cottage, while Kennicott prefers a duplicate of the Clark's house that will showcase his success. They are unable to understand each other's point of view and abandon their plans, both of them disappointed and dissatisfied.

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