Main Street Quotes in Context
by Sinclair Lewis

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"Village Virus"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Main Street is a satire on the narrowness, sterility, and inadequacies of the small village. Carol Kennicott, an idealist, having married Dr. Will Kennicott of Gopher Prairie with the enthusiastic intention of beautifying and vitalizing his dreary hometown, finds to her dismay that the town has no will for improvement. Her ideas are met unsympathetically, and her efforts at reform serve only to separate her from the townspeople. Alternating between despair and hope, she grasps at every opportunity to rebuild Gopher Prairie. She tries to organize clubs, to initiate movements, and to interest the right people in her schemes. Each person to whom she appeals discloses in some way his indifference to reforms. Guy Pollock, a conservative lawyer, tells her that Gopher Prairie is not particularly bad; it is like all villages. Some day the village will be obsolete, he says. Charming cities will take its place. When asked why he stays in the dull village, Pollock replies:

I have the Village Virus. . . . The Village Virus is the germ which . . . infects ambitious people who stay too long in the provinces.