Main Street | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Main Street | Chapter 27 | Summary



After the deaths of Bea and Olaf, Miles sells his dairy, curses the town, and moves away. The town continues to justify its sanctimonious attitude toward Miles by telling outright lies about him. They label him a blasphemer and a traitor, and spread stories that he left the town shamed and guilt-ridden. The townspeople wonder if they should have forced him to be patriotic, pretending they could send him to jail if he didn't buy more war bonds or volunteer more. That trick, they say, had worked "with all these German farmers."

Carol remains silent, finding some relief from her grief in the kindness of Mrs. Westlake. She also discovers a kindred spirit when she meets Mrs. Flickerbaugh, the attorney's wife. The woman hates Gopher Prairie perhaps as much as Carol and has allowed herself to become eccentric in defiance of the town expectations. That night, Carol goes home, feeling frail and helpless, as though the "trap had finally closed." Meanwhile, her husband makes a "professional call" on Maud Dyer.


Mrs. Westlake and Mrs. Flickerbaugh represent two very different approaches to dealing with the town's hypocrisy. Mrs. Westlake, the doctor's wife, seems kind and compassionate—perhaps because she was a "big city" woman—although she will eventually reveal herself to be very much a part of Gopher Prairie. She appears, however, to be able to separate herself from the pettiness of the town by staying immersed in books. Mrs. Flickerbaugh, on the other hand, almost takes pride in being an outsider, and defiantly presents herself as one. Carol is not sure which approach makes more sense. She also remains unaware that her husband is carrying on an affair with Maud Dyer, a revelation that would certainly devastate her.

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