Carol Milford is a student of Blodgett College, and the protagonist of Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. Her ambition is to settle down in a prairie village and transform it into a place of beauty. She works as a librarian at St. Paul after her graduation. She marries the doctor Kennicott, whom she met at a friend’s house. Life in Gopher Prairie offers no challenges.
Kennicott takes her on a long tour to California and other places. Carol returns to Gopher Prairie and tries to be enthusiastic about the town but feels tired of the hypocrisy and decides to leave. Kennicott feels distressed and she assures him that she would come back if she is able to find out what she needs.
She works in Washington for two years. Kennicott visits her in Washington to woo her for the second time. Carol mellows and admits her desire to return to Gopher Prairie. Kennicott asks her to return only when she is prepared.
She talks to the leader of the suffrage movement who tells her that she cannot achieve anything without total dedication. She convinces Carol that she can play at least a small role in changing life by persistently asking questions whenever she finds anything that hinders social change. Her life in Washington helps her to acquire a mature outlook towards life and is at last able to accept Gopher Prairie and its people as they are, but she does not give up her fight to make Gopher Prairie a better place. She gives birth to a daughter and feels optimistic that her daughter will carry on the fight that she had started and witness a united world. II. THEME
The main theme of the story is rebellion and reformation. The rebellion is against materialism, lack of equality between the rich and the poor, the ugliness of the town, its narrow-mindedness and its prejudices. Carol wants to reform the town by teaching the people to appreciate poetry and to surround themselves with beauty and by teaching them to play. She tries to put up a play, read poetry to Kennicott and campaign for a new city hall, school and a better rest room and also by organizing parties and games. Though she cannot bring about any radical changes, her triumph lies in putting up a fight and keeping her faith.
Main Street brings to light the discontent of the protagonist because of her inability to bring about a change in the attitudes of the people of Gopher Prairie. She appreciates beauty of simplicity. She believes that life should uphold the virtues of equality and freedom. She disapproves of exploitation. Therefore she opposes the industrialization which wipes out the beauty of the land and the spirit of adventure of the pioneers of America.
She also rebels against the exploitation of the farmers and the laborers. She incurs the wrath of the matrons of Gopher Prairie by paying six dollars a week to her maid and also by justifying the wages by pointing out that the job they did is very tedious. She insists that the rest room for the farmer’s wives should have better facilities, because it brought the farmer’s business to the merchants of the town.
The reforms she proposes are very simple. She wants beautiful buildings. She wants to cultivate the taste of the people. She wants to teach the farmer’s wives the proper way to care for their babies and to make good stew. She suggests setting up an employment bureau so that they will not depend on charity. The women of Gopher Prairie snigger at Carol’s suggestions. They oppose the idea of empowering the poor women to be self-sufficient because that will deny them the chance to be charitable. When Carol suggests that they should mend the clothes before handing them out as charity, the women pounce once again on Carol and overrule the suggestion as unnecessary because it would encourage those women to be lazy.
Carol feels frustrated by this mindlessness. Hence she leaves Gopher Prairie so that she can find out what she can achieve in life. In Washington, she gains the objectivity necessary for any...
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