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Main Street | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Main Street | Chapter 8 | Summary



Four days later, Vida "casually [blows] Carol's world to pieces." Her goal, she says, is simply to help Carol become accepted enough in the community so that together they can make some necessary changes. Although she applauds Carol's forward thinking, Vida suggests she may be "a bit tactless" in expressing her ideas. Vida also mentions that Carol dresses perhaps a bit too well, and that her friendly comments are interpreted as condescending. The villagers believe her furnishings are absurd, and her party had been meant to show off her superiority and wealth. In short, Carol has been the center of constant and vicious gossip, and Carol, shamed, condemns their "frozen, sneering, horrible hearts."

Later, Carol asks Kennicott if he has heard anything similar, but for the most part he is oblivious to the gossip. He does mention, however, that she should try to buy things locally, even if they are inferior, and not do business with anyone who patronizes his competitor, Dr. Gould. He says this even as he acknowledges that the people Carol does business with provide better products and services. His comments leave her in shock.


Vida's visit leaves Carol crushed. Any affection she had begun to feel for her neighbors vanishes. She is also concerned that she may have disappointed or shamed her husband. Although she is relieved to find he still believes the town loves her, he reveals a side of himself that is uncomfortably similar to those of the rest of the townspeople. For example, he prefers Carol purchase shoddy goods and services from people in town, rather than spend money on better products from outside the village. Although it could be argued that he is simply promoting support of the local economy, Carol views his request as a narrow-minded desire not to look beyond his hometown for anything of worth.

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