Summary Main Street Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair Lewis
Main Street
A young girl, Carol Milford, graduates from Blodget College in St. Paul and thinks about what kind of noble occupation for her to devote her life to. She intends to achieve significant results in any business, no matter what she does. At first she worked for a year in Chicago, in the city library, then in the public library of St. Paul. Once a guest she meets Dr. Will Kennicot from Gofer-Prairie, a small town of two or three thousand inhabitants, and after a while marries him.
Arriving in Gopher-Prairie, Carol is disheartened by the awkwardness of the buildings and the unsettledness of the town as a whole. In honor of Carol, the local elite, to which her husband belongs also, arranges an evening at the house of Sam Clark, the owner of a hardware store. In clothes, in the manner of holding these people, Carol sees only depressing provinciality and stiffness. Among them is the owner of the haberdashery store Harry Heidock with his wife Juanita, and the owner of the pharmacy Dave Dyer with his wife, and the owner of the sawmill Jack Elder, and the first rich man in the town of Luke Dawson… The only entertainment these people allow themselves on such festivals, remains unchanged from year to year: someone tells the same old anecdote, the other recites from time to time all the same poems, the third sings and so on. After such “entertainment” men and women break up into groups and conduct ordinary conversations in their midst, without a shadow of novelty: men talk about cars, about affairs, and women talk about children and about the kitchen. Even gossip does not give enough to talk. From time to time, silence, like a mist, envelops the room. Then comes the dinner time: sandwiches with chicken, cake, ice cream. Now everyone has an occupation and everyone is happy. After dinner, you can go home at any moment and go to bed.
Carol takes in the house a servant Bi Sørensson, a Swede, a strong and laughable girl, tired of working on the farm and who came to Gopher-Prairie at the same time as Carol. Soon young women, despite the difference in their social status, become friends.
Carol wants to remake the whole town, she vaguely yearns to have someone with whom she could share her thoughts. One day she comes to Miss Vaida Sherwin, a teacher in high school, who came to the city several years ago to work under a contract and has already managed to occupy a prominent place in it thanks to her active and active nature. Waida becomes the second girlfriend for Carol and treats the girl a little patronizingly, since Kennicot’s wife is ten years older and is better acquainted with the inhabitants of the town, his mores and problems.
Arranging a housewarming party in her home, Carol makes every effort, uses all her ingenuity to make the evening fun and the guests are not bored. She arranges games, charades, treats guests with original dishes, does everything to bring a fresh stream in the manner of the city tops to organize holidays. She thinks that her idea was a success, but later it turns out that her evening gave rise only to envy of those who could not afford to buy the kind of furniture that Carol bought, the discontent of shopkeepers selling furniture, the fact that she bought it not from them, and reproaches for excessive extravagance and a desire to stand out. The next evening, arranged by someone, is as boring as all the previous ones.
With the onset of winter, Carol discovers that she has absolutely nothing to do: go to work for her as a doctor’s wife, it would be indecent, with a child, Kennicot does not want to rush. Carol can only start a long-planned transformation or merge with the city to spend her energy on attending a church, an educational club and playing bridge in the club of “Merry Seventeen”, consisting of young women whose husbands belong to the top of the urban society.
Little by little, Carol begins to feel some chill in relations with the inhabitants, who consider her to be a proud and too big fashionista. Carol is going through and feels alone. It seems to her that whatever she does, the town stealthily follows her and discusses it. Wade, wishing to disperse Carol, takes her to the educational Tanatopsys Club, where women read new magazines and discuss current events, as well as issues of literature, architecture, home economics. Carol decides to “fight”, and not be eaten and begins her attempts to remake the city, wake him up. She tries to get money from local rich people to build a new town hall, a new school and a church, but she does not get out. Everywhere it encounters stagnancy and internal resistance.
One day, Carol meets Miles Bjernstam, a plumber and stoveman, who in the city is called the “red Swede” for his rebellious spirit living in him. At a time of spiritual doubt, he supports Carol, advising her not to pay attention to others, just as a gull hovering in the sky does not pay attention to the seals that are crowded on the shore. Little by little, Carol’s relationship with Gopher-Prairie is normalized, which costs her a lot of effort and some pretense. In December, Carol has a serious conversation with her husband, their first quarrel, which still allows her to better understand Kennicot, his aspirations and secret hopes. As a result, next month Carol is in love with her husband, as she probably was not in love with before. Strengthening her feelings and contributes to the fact that once she is present at the operation, which in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions conducts Kennicot. However, after a while her ardor cools, she feels that her husband is too down to earth, too attached to his work, car, hunting, friends and resale of land. She somewhat cool down to her husband and even moves from a shared bedroom to a separate room.
Once, after another joint trip with friends outside the city, Carol decides to organize an amateur theater. Her idea is supported by many of her acquaintances. After numerous rehearsals, a performance will take place that amazes Carol with the mediocrity of the actors’ play, but everyone is happy: the actors are themselves, and the spectators by... seeing their acquaintances in a new role. For Carol the theater is over. She again has nothing to do.
In June, Bi and Miles Bjernstam, who had been caring for her since the winter, are getting married, and Carol is deprived of her maid and confidante. The successor to Bee is the elderly silent Oscarina, who treats Carol in a motherly manner and takes up her kitchen duties as jealously as Bee.
A few months later, a world war broke out on Europe, from which Gopher-Prairie at first shuddered in sweet terror, but then again subsided. At this time, Carol is waiting for the child. She is born a healthy boy with a straight back and strong legs, which is called Hugh and who gives meaning to her sluggish existence. To her husband, she no longer pulls like before. Kennicot feels abandoned and falls into the love networks of Mod Dyer, the wife of an apothecary, who has disagreements with her own husband. From time to time, Kennicot changes Carol, although she still loves only her one. Carol also devotes all his time to Hugh, who loves to play with his son Bee, Olaf Bjernstam. Once, having drunk water from an infected well, Bee falls ill with typhus and dies in a few days. For Carol, this is a hard blow.
Soon a new face appears in the city: a young, very handsome Swede, a tailor by profession, Eric Valberg. Carol immediately sees in him an individuality, spiritual nature. Young people find that they have much in common, and begin to often meet. Carol has a feeling for him that she never felt for her husband. Surrendering to him and passionate speeches of Eric, she is ready to leave her husband. Only the prudence and restraint of Kennicot help him to persuade his wife not to leave his family. Carol suffocates in Gopher-Prairie and together with her husband is forced to go on a trip to the coast of America for six months. Returning, she still feels that she can no longer stay at home, where life goes on in the old way, so she picks Hugh and leaves for Washington. There she works in the “Bureau of Insurance against Military Risk,” communicates with interesting and knowledgeable people, lives a full-blooded life. A year after his wife left, Kennicot comes to visit her and her son. By the time Carol has time to know that there are disappointments here too, that in the afternoon hours work in the office is fatally tiring, that any office is full of intrigues and gossip, like some Gopher-Prairie. She learns that the majority of women serving in government offices, lead an unhealthy lifestyle, live in tight rooms and eat as if it were horrible. But she also learned that female servants can get acquainted and make friends and enemies as openly as men, and enjoy bliss completely inaccessible to housewives – a free Sunday afternoon. She feels that her work is connected with the concerns of people scattered all over the country, is part of a huge deal, not limited to Main Street and the kitchen. Together with Kennicot and Hugh, she goes to the sea for two weeks. She hesitates to return to Gopher-Prairie. Kennicot, however, believes that Carol should think about everything. It has exhausted the active hatred of Gopher-Prairie, now she sees in it a young city of toilers. Five months later, Carol returns home. In Washington, it seemed to her that the whole world was changing, but when she returned home, she realized that this was not the case. In August her daughter is born. Carol is not so painfully reacting to the imperfection of Gopher-Prairie, she has become more mature, but she does not want to reconcile herself with the fact that nothing can be changed in the city, and she is ready again, without the same fervor, to devote herself to his transformation. Do not go back to her in Gopher-Prairie. Kennicot, however, believes that Carol should think about everything. It has exhausted the active hatred of Gopher-Prairie, now she sees in it a young city of toilers. Five months later, Carol returns home. In Washington, it seemed to her that the whole world was changing, but when she returned home, she realized that this was not the case. In August her daughter is born. Carol is not so painfully reacting to the imperfection of Gopher-Prairie, she has become more mature, but she does not want to reconcile herself with the fact that nothing can be changed in the city, and she is ready again, without the same fervor, to devote herself to his transformation. Do not go back to her in Gopher-Prairie. Kennicot, however, believes that Carol should think about everything. It has exhausted the active hatred of Gopher-Prairie, now she sees in it a young city of toilers. Five months later, Carol returns home. In Washington, it seemed to her that the whole world was changing, but when she returned home, she realized that this was not the case. In August her daughter is born. Carol is not so painfully reacting to the imperfection of Gopher-Prairie, she has become more mature, but she does not want to reconcile herself with the fact that nothing can be changed in the city, and she is ready again, without the same fervor, to devote herself to his transformation. Five months later, Carol returns home. In Washington, it seemed to her that the whole world was changing, but when she returned home, she realized that this was not the case. In August her daughter is born. Carol is not so painfully reacting to the imperfection of Gopher-Prairie, she has become more mature, but she does not want to reconcile herself with the fact that nothing can be changed in the city, and she is ready again, without the same fervor, to devote herself to his transformation. Five months later, Carol returns home. In Washington, it seemed to her that the whole world was changing, but when she returned home, she realized that this was not the case. In August her daughter is born. Carol is not so painfully reacting to the imperfection of Gopher-Prairie, she has become more mature, but she does not want to reconcile herself with the fact that nothing can be changed in the city, and she is ready again, without the same fervor, to devote herself to his transformation.


Summary Main Street Sinclair Lewis