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Main Street | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Main Street | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • September 1912

    Carol Milford marries Will Kennicott and moves to Gopher Prairie.

    Chapter 3
  • November 1912

    Carol throws her first party in an attempt to enliven Gopher Prairie society.

    Chapter 6
  • December 1912

    Carol attends a meeting of the Jolly Seventeen, and later finds they are all gossiping about her.

    Chapter 7
  • May 1913

    Carol attends the Thanatopsis Club, a pretentious literary discussion group.

    Chapter 11
  • Summer 1913

    The Kennicotts spend the summer with their neighbors at the lake, and Carol begins to enjoy them.

    Chapter 12
  • November 1913

    Carol has a flirtation with the lawyer Guy Pollock.

    Chapter 13
  • December 1913

    Carol enjoys a brief period of happiness as "the doctor's wife."

    Chapter 15
  • January 1914

    Carol founds the Gopher Prairie Dramatic Association, and is named director.

    Chapter 18
  • May 1914

    The association performs The Girl from Kankakee, which Carol concludes is a disaster.

    Chapter 18
  • June 1914

    Miles Bjornstam and Bea Sorenson, Carol's housekeeper, are married.

    Chapter 19
  • July 1914

    The Great War (WWI) begins in Europe.

    Chapter 19
  • Spring 1915

    Olaf Bjornstam and Hugh Kennicott are born.

    Chapter 20
  • April 1917

    The United States enters the war, and a number of men from the town enlist.

    Chapter 23
  • June 1917

    Erik Valborg and Fern Mullins arrive in Gopher Prairie.

    Chapter 28
  • July 1917

    Bea Bjornstam and Olaf die from typhoid, ignored by everyone but Carol and Kennicott.

    Chapter 26
  • October 1917

    Fern is run out of town after being falsely accused of corrupting Cy Bogart.

    Chapter 32
  • November 1917

    Erik leaves town shortly after Kennicott confronts Carol about her flirtation with him.

    Chapter 33
  • October 1918

    One month before the war ends, Carol moves to Washington.

    Chapter 36
  • November 1919

    Kennicott visits Carol in Washington, and they renew their affection for each other.

    Chapter 38
  • April 1920

    Carol returns to Gopher Prairie and is able to be more content with her life.

    Chapter 39

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Preface and Chapter 1 In the preface to Main Street, the narrator introduces the town in which most of the story will take place. Gopher Pra... Read More
Chapter 2 At a dinner hosted by her friends the Marburys, Carol meets a good-looking and good-natured doctor named Will Kennicott ... Read More
Chapter 3 After a year of courtship, Carol and Kennicott are married. On the way to Gopher Prairie, Carol finds herself on a train... Read More
Chapter 4 Carol decides to get to know Gopher Prairie, but is not impressed by the half-dozen shops and their contents, all of whi... Read More
Chapter 5 Carol begins to settle in to Gopher Prairie. She goes on regular hunting trips with Kennicott, wanting to be part of his... Read More
Chapter 6 In November, Carol begins to redecorate in earnest, capturing the attention of the entire town with her contemporary tas... Read More
Chapter 7 Winter begins to take hold of the North Middlewest. In order to look sophisticated, Gopher Prairie residents avoid all o... Read More
Chapter 8 Four days later, Vida "casually [blows] Carol's world to pieces." Her goal, she says, is simply to help Carol become acc... Read More
Chapter 9 Carol continues to agonize over her discovery that people are gossiping behind her back. She begins avoiding some of the... Read More
Chapter 10 Carol tries to salvage some of her self-esteem with a renewed determination to do what she had originally set out to do:... Read More
Chapter 11 Carol further attempts to become part of Gopher Prairie life by attending the Thanatopsis Club, which Vida promises puts... Read More
Chapter 12 When summer arrives, Carol and Kennicott buy a summer cottage, something all the Gopher Prairie residents have. For a fe... Read More
Chapter 13 Carol encounters Guy Pollock near his office, and he invites her in for a visit. They immediately begin the kind of disc... Read More
Chapter 14 When Carol returns home, she finds she is troubled by some of what Guy has said about materialism and professional rival... Read More
Chapter 15 After their honest exchange, Carol finds herself "in love with her husband." With a newfound respect for what he does, C... Read More
Chapter 16 Carol attempts to keep her newfound infatuation with her husband alive, but she is already struggling. At Christmas, Ken... Read More
Chapter 17 Carol's next project is inspired by a pleasant winter outing she and Kennicott take with the Goulds, the Clarks, they Dy... Read More
Chapter 18 The dramatic association begins well, with all participants enthusiastically involved. But Carol's first disappointment ... Read More
Chapter 19 For the next three years, Carol finds little to be interested in. One thing that makes her happy, though, is the wedding... Read More
Chapter 20 As Carol's pregnancy progresses, she is suddenly embraced by all of the women of Gopher Prairie and pelted with constant... Read More
Chapter 21 Chapter 21 explores Vida's character in depth. She is described as "a personage and a force" who leads a busy and exciti... Read More
Chapter 22 After years of living in a boardinghouse, Vida joyously throws herself into housework. Her happiness with domesticity ma... Read More
Chapter 23 In April 1917 America enters the Great War (later called World War I). Vida's husband, Raymie, goes off to an officer's ... Read More
Chapter 24 After Bresnahan's visit, Carol becomes doubly impatient with both the town and Kennicott. She and her husband argue over... Read More
Chapter 25 In this chapter, readers see yet another side of Will Kennicott, but this time from his perspective, instead of Carol's.... Read More
Chapter 26 Carol finds that her happiest moments are those spent with her son, Hugh, and the Bjornstam family. Miles has made a suc... Read More
Chapter 27 After the deaths of Bea and Olaf, Miles sells his dairy, curses the town, and moves away. The town continues to justify ... Read More
Chapter 28 At church some time later, Carol thinks about both Kennicott's and her attitudes toward religion. She labels herself "an... Read More
Chapter 29 Carol once again encounters Erik while taking her baby for a walk. She urges him not to give up his dreams and to "go an... Read More
Chapter 30 Fern Mullins begs Carol to go on a picnic with her before she is once again trapped in a schoolroom. Also invited are Cy... Read More
Chapter 31 One night not long after the party, Erik turns up on Carol's doorstep when Kennicott is on a country call. Carol attempt... Read More
Chapter 32 Shortly after Carol's flirtation with Erik, Fern Mullins asks Carol to be her chaperone for a barn dance, but Carol is u... Read More
Chapter 33 For a month, Carol avoids Erik, although she has once again convinced herself she loves him. Then one night he appears o... Read More
Chapter 34 Carol and Kennicott travel out west for over three months. Carol feels refreshed and resolves to love "the fine Will Ken... Read More
Chapter 35 Life—and death—continue in Gopher Prairie. Mrs. Champ Perry dies, and Champ, one of the few remaining pioneers who found... Read More
Chapter 36 Kennicott becomes impatient with Carol's inability to be enthusiastic about the boosters' efforts in the community. They... Read More
Chapter 37 Carol finds employment in Washington at the Bureau of War Risk Insurance. It is no more than an administrative role invo... Read More
Chapter 38 After having lived in Washington for a year, Carol tires of office work and begins to feel like "a faded government cler... Read More
Chapter 39 Upon her return to Gopher Prairie, Carol finds most of the townspeople happy to see her again. She decides that she is n... Read More
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