Main Street Character and Theme Quotes
by Sinclair Lewis

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Essential Quotes by Character: Carol Kennicott

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 2

“Come on. Come to Gopher Prairie. Show us. Make the town—well—make it artistic. It’s mighty pretty, but I’ll admit we aren’t any too darn artistic. Probably the lumberyard isn’t as scrumptious as all these Greek temples. But go to it! Make us change!
“I would like to. Some day!”
“Now! You’d love Gopher Prairie. We’ve been doing a lot with lawns and gardening the past few years, and it’s so homey—the big trees and—And the best people on earth. And keen. I bet Luke Dawson—.”
Carol but half listened to the names. She could not fancy their ever becoming important to her.
“I bet Luke Dawson has got more money than most of the swells on Summit Avenue; and Miss Sherwin the high school is a regular wonder—reads Latin like I do English; and Sam Clark, the hardware man, he’s a corker—not a better man in the state to go hunting with; and if you want culture, besides Vida Sherwin there’s Reverend Warren, the Congregational preacher, and Professor Mott, the superintendent of schools, and Guy Pollock, the lawyer—they say he writes regular poetry and—and Raymie Wutherspoon, he’s not such an awful book when you get to know him, and he sings swell. And—And there’s plenty of others. Lym Cass. Only of course none of them have your finesse, you might call it. But they don’t make ‘em any more appreciative and so on. Come on! We’re ready for you to boss us!”


Carol Milford has progressed through Blodgett College in Minnesota, deciding after various false starts to study library science. Beginning her career in the main library in St. Paul, Carol revels in her social life with friends, discussing ideas, enjoying theatre and concerts, etc. At one party she meets Will Kennicott, a doctor from the small town of Gopher Prairie. Their courtship is conventional, commencing to the point where Will begins to talk of Carol’s coming to Gopher Prairie, presumably as his wife. He shows her streaky pictures which he assumes will draw her to the beauty that he sees in his hometown. He then appeals to her “missionary” spirit, sparking her interest in town reform and beautification. Will tells her of the good Carol could do in bringing her taste for beauty to Gopher Prairie. Carol is mildly intrigued, but not overwhelmed with a passion to be the savior of Gopher Prairie, at least just yet. Will then tells her of the town’s inhabitants, especially those whom he believes hold similar interests as Carol. Yet all these people that he praises so highly will, after their marriage, become objects of his scorn, as will Carol’s plans to renovate the town. Yet Carol eventually accepts the challenge, marrying Will and moving to Gopher Prairie to begin a life she has long planned, but will be far different from that which she will actually live.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 36

Forlornly, “Uh—Carrie, what the devil is it you want, anyway?” Oh, conversation! No, it’s much more than that. I think it’s a greatness of life—a refusal to be content with even the healthiest mud.”
“Don’t you know that nobody ever solved a problem by running away from it?”
“Perhaps. Only I choose to make my own definition of ‘running away.’ I don’t call—Do you realize how big a world there is beyond this Gopher Prairie where you’d keep me all my life? It may be that some day I’ll come back, but not till I can bring something more than I have now. And even if I am cowardly and run away—all right, call it cowardly, call me anything you want to! I’ve been ruled too long by fear of being called things. I’m going away to be quiet and think. I’m—I’m going! I have a right to my own life.”
“So have I to mine!”
“I have a right to my life—and you’re it, you’re my life! You’ve made yourself so. I’m damned if I’ll agree to all your freak notions, but I will say I’ve got to depend on you. Never thought of that complication, did you, in this...

(The entire section is 3,902 words.)