Main Street

Distribute a guide about Lewis's Main Street that provides an overview as well as questions, vocabulary, quotations for discussion, and activities for each chapter.
Teaching Strategies:
Grades:
9 |
10 |
11 |
Updated: June 9, 2019
Page 4 of 5

Chapter 22
Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street

Questions
1. How is the married Vida different from Carol?
2. What are Carol's and Vida's versions of the American small town? Which fits Gopher Prairie?
3. What happens to the Scandinavian immigrants in Gopher Prairie?
4. What, according to Lewis, is the main characteristic of a town like Gopher Prairie that keeps it from becoming as great as Rome or Paris?
5. Why does Lewis get the men and the children out of the way for Vida's and Carol's conversation?
6. Why is change scary to the settled Gopher Prairians, according to Vida? Why is it necessary, according to Carol?
7. What is the effect of their conversation on Carol? Does this last?

Vocabulary
diaphanous (291): light, delicate, translucent

Quotations
"The greatest mystery about a human being is not his reaction to sex or praise, but the manner in which he contrives to put in twenty-four hours a day." (281)

"It has not yet been recorded that any human being has gained a very large or permanent contentment from meditation upon the fact that he is better off than others." (282) "A book was a book, and if you had several thousand of them right here in the library, free, why the dickens should you spend your good money?" (282) "It is an unimaginatively standardized background, a sluggishness of speech and manners, a rigid ruling of the spirit by the desire to appear respectable. It is contentment...the contentment of the quiet dead, who are scornful of the living for their restless walking. It is negation canonized as the one positive virtue. It is the prohibition of happiness. It is slavery self-sought and self-defended. It is dullness made God." (284) "It is the Harry Haydocks, the Dave Dyers, the Jackson Elders, the small busy men crushingly powerful in their common purpose, viewing themselves men of the cash-register and the comic film, who make the town a sterile oligarchy." (287) "It is a `parasitic Greek civilization' - minus the civilization." (288)

Historical Notes/Allusions
Thorstein Veblen: In his writings Veblen was able to dissect American social and economic institutions and analyze their psychological bases, thus laying the foundations for the school of institutional economics. Other books by him: The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904) and The Engineers and the Price System (1921).
Anatole France (1844-1924): 1921 Nobel Laureate in Literature in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament.
Rolland: Author of books about Francois Millet (1902), Beethoven (1903), Michelangelo (1905-1906), Handel (1910), and Tolstoy (1911), as well as articles and reviews.
Nexo: Martin Andersen Nexo, Danish novelist (1869-1954), focused attention on conditions of poverty in Denmark in Pelle the Conqueror (1906-1910) and Ditte, Daughter of Mankind (1917-1921).
Wells: H.G. Wells (1866-1946), an English author of science fiction, over the years became concerned with the fate of human society in a world where technology and scientific study were advancing at a rapid pace. For a period he was a member of The Fabian Society, a group of social philosophers in London. His later works were less science fiction than social critique. Books by him: The Time Machine (1895), The War of the Worlds (1898), and The Shape of Things to Come (1933).
Shaw: George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright and critic, authored Pygmalion (1913), about class distinction and the role of women.
Key: Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), American lawyer, poet, and author of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Edgar Lee Masters: author (1869-1950) of Spoon River Anthology, a series of poetic portraits about the people of a small town.
Theodore Dreiser: American novelist who portrayed people as victims of such ungovernable forces as economics, biology, and society. His books include: Sister Carrie (1900), The Financier (1912), and An American Tragedy (1925). Sherwood Anderson: author of Winesburg, Ohio (1919), a series of grotesques about a small midwestern town.
Henry Mencken (1880-1956): Known as a literary critic, however in the 1920s became more interested in social criticism.
Confucius (551-479 B.C.): Chinese philosopher; "I will not be afflicted at men's not knowing me; I will be afflicted that I do not know men."
Mary and Martha: From the gospel of Luke, Jesus goes to the home of the two sisters. Mary sits at Jesus's feet, listening to him, while Martha rushes around trying to prepare a feast. When Martha asks Jesus to tell Mary to help her, Jesus tells Martha that Mary has "chosen the greater portion."

Activities
1. Conduct a debate on the question: Has the United States become more or less homogenized? How has this affected the country's greatness? Support for positions should be drawn from Main Street.
2. Conduct research into how advertising affects our culture. List popular advertising slogans and discover how many people can identify the product by its slogan. Ask your subjects if they can recall other slogans or ads associated with these products. Discuss your results with the class.

Chapter 23

Questions
1. Explain the irony of Cy's "heroism."
2. Is Carol a socialist? Explain your answer.
3. Is Vida patriotic? Explain your answer.
4. What kind of person is Percy Bresnehan? Why does the town canonize him? How does Carol react to him?
5. Evaluate Bresnehan's "top secret" information based on what you know about WWI. Was it correct?
6. Why does Kennicott belittle Carol in front of Bresnehan?
7. Why is Carol afraid of Bresnehan?
8. Why does Miles verbally attack Bresnehan? What is Bresnehan's response? 9. Why does Bresnehan consider both Miles and Carol "big bluffs"?
10. What reason does Carol give for wanting to change Gopher Prairie? Why does Percy think it can't be changed?

Vocabulary
inanely (297): stupidly
strictly on the QT (299): (slang) to be kept secret
vacuousness (303): emptiness
denizens (304): residents
spieler (305): talker
neophyte (305): someone new to a town or experience
iconoclast (305): severe critic; rebel

Quotation
"There's always about a million young women just out of college who want to teach their grandmothers how to suck eggs." (304)

Activities
1. In a small group discussion, compare and contrast Percy Bresnehan's debate with Carol about Gopher Prairie with Vida's in the previous chapter. Share your results with the class.
2. Illustrate Percy's "gospel: love of outdoors, Playing the Game, loyalty to friends" (305) in a gospel-type song.

Chapter 24

Questions
1. How does the heat affect Carol's mood?
2. In what ways does Lewis show, not tell, Carol's displeasure with her husband and her life in Gopher Prairie?
3. Why does Carol reject Bresnehan's opinion of the men Kennicott plays cards with?
4. Explain the irony in Kennicott's ideas of patriotism.
5. Why does Carol move into her own room? How does this affect others around her? Who supports her decision? Why?
6. Why did Carol not notice the bad accommodations for their servants earlier?
7. What kind of house does Kennicott want? How is this different from the kind Carol wants? What does a house represent to him? To her?
8. Why is Carol excited about going to Joralemon?
9. How is Joralemon - the people and the town - like Gopher Prairie? Why does Carol call it an "ash heap"? (325)

Vocabulary
brusquely (306): rudely, roughly
leprous (307): diseased
sanctimonious (307): making a show of righteousness
solecisms (308): grammatical blunder; error
acrid (310): bitter
epicure (311): one who enjoys well-prepared food and drink
anarchy (314): destruction of the status quo
incumbencies (315): residencies
puerile (315): childish
gyrated (322): circled
debauch (322): abuse; pervert
erudite (322): educated
adumbrated (323): predicted

Historical Note/Allusion
Grabbing the gold ring (324): On carousel rides in the early part of the 20th-century, a gold ring was hung on a pole so that merry-go-round riders could try to grab it. Whoever did won a free ride. It was rather dangerous--people were flung from the carousel or damaged their hands in the gears--so the practice was discontinued. The expression "grabbing the gold ring" or "going for the gold" has come to mean taking a risk in order to get the most out of an experience.

Quotations
"She made much of her consoling affection for him in little things." (306)

"She realized they found little to say; that, incredibly, they were like the talked-out couples whom she had pitied at restaurants." (308) "There are two races of people, only two, and they live side by side. His calls mine `neurotic'; mine calls his `stupid'. We'll never understand each other, never; and it's madness for us to debate - to lie together in a hot bed in a creepy room enemies, yoked." (313) "Her ambition was to get to bed at nine; her strongest emotion was resentment over rising at half-past six to care for Hugh." (316) "While Kennicott was chattering about a patent swing-door for the garage she saw the swing-door of a prison." (320)

Activities
1. Write a responsive journal: When do you tend to lose patience with people around you?
2. Throughout the novel characters classify people into certain groupings. Develop your own system of classification of people in your school and describe each grouping. Illustrate this system in a poster.
3. Design your perfect bedroom. How does it compare with Carol's?
4. Make a collage showing what Carol's life would be like in today's society. What kind of car would she drive? What kinds of interests would she have? What would her house look like?

Chapter 25

Questions
1. What attracts Will to Maud Dyer? How is she different from Carol?
2. Why does he reject Nat Hicks's invitation to carouse with Mrs. Swiftwaite and her friends?
3. Why does the town gossip about Mrs. Swiftwaite?
4. Why does Carol find it inconceivable that Will would be unfaithful to her?

Quotations
"She simply hasn't got an i-dea how hard it is for a full-blooded man to go on pretending to be satisfied with just being endured." (326)

"My moral in life is, `What they don't know won't hurt `em none.' The way to handle wives, like the fellow says, is to catch `em early, treat `em rough, and tell `em nothing." (332)

Activity
Develop a piece of creative writing showing Gopher Prairie's attitude towards women.

Chapter 26

Questions
1. Why does Carol find the Bjornstams good company?
2. How is Miles a better father figure to Hugh than Kennicott?
3. How does Miles fulfill his family's dreams?
4. When Bea and Olaf contract typhoid fever, why does Carol volunteer to nurse them?
5. Why do Vida and the ladies of town finally come to visit the Bjornstams? What does Miles tell them?
6. Why doesn't Carol go to the funeral?

Vocabulary
resplendently amiable (336): radiantly friendly
vulgarian (336): one who is rude, vulgar
august (336): noble, elegant
pariah (337): an outcast
agnostic (337): skeptic
flaccid (340): lacking firmness
cyclonic (341): storm-like, like a tornado

Quotation
"Carol saw, though she did not admit, that Olaf was not only more beautiful than her own dark child, but more gracious." (336)

Activity
Write a eulogy for Bea and Olaf.

Chapter 27

Questions
1. How is Miles Bjornstam like Sinclair Lewis in his attitude toward the town?
2. How is Kennicott's opinion of Miles influenced by the town?
3. Why is walking considered odd in Gopher Prairie?
4. How are Mrs. Flickerbaugh and Mrs. Westlake like Carol? How do they cope with their dislike of the town?
5. How do we know Kennicott is continuing his affair with Maud Dyer?

Vocabulary
seditious (342): defiant, rebellious
raiment (343): clothing

Quotation
"Suddenly, to the woman rocking on the porch of the doctor's house, the night came alive, and she felt that everywhere in the darkness panted an ardent quest which she was missing as she sank back to wait for--There must be something." (345)

Activity
Draw a picture of Mrs. Flickerbaugh based on the description beginning on page 343.

Chapter 28

Questions
1. Why are Carol and Maud friends?
2. Why does the town call Erik Valborg "Elizabeth"? Why do they play tricks on him?
3. What is the role of the church in Gopher Prairie? What does the minister discuss in his sermon?
4. What is Carol's first reaction to Erik Valborg? When she discovers who he is, why does her reaction change? How is this ironic?
5. How does Lewis inject humor into the luncheon at the Smails's?
6. Who is the other newcomer to town? What does Carol find in common with her?
7. How does Carol classify people she doesn't know well? What expectations does she have for them? How is this similar to her relationship with Guy?
8. How does Valborg know about Carol? What does he know about her?
9. How does Carol's snobbishness get in the way?
10. What is the difference in the way Kennicott treats Fern and Valborg?
11. How does Kennicott's reaction to Valborg's play selections and ideas parallel Carol's experiences with the town?

Vocabulary
farcicality (356): ridiculousness

Quotations
"Sure, religion is a fine influence - got to have it to keep the lower classes in order - fact, it's the only thing that appeals to a lot of those fellows and makes `em respect the rights of property." (347)

"`Isn't it wonderful how much we all know about one another in a town like this,' said Carol innocently." (353) "Everything has changed! I have two friends, Fern and - But who's the other? That's queer; I thought there was - Oh, how absurd!" (355) "I wonder how much of the cement is made out of the tombstones of the John Keatses?" (359)

Historical Notes/Allusions
"Workmen in every nation showing a desire to control industries" (348): Movement towards socialism growing during the early part of the 20th-century.
"Russia hinting a leftward revolution against Kerensky" (348): The beginnings of the Russian Revolution (1917).
Farmers' Nonpartisan League: An attempt to organize those in the farming industry.
John Keats: Romantic British poet of the 18th-century, perhaps best known for his "Ode on a Grecian Urn." Died at age 25.

Activities
1. Write a responsive journal telling about nicknames you had as a child. Why were you given these nicknames? Which did you like? Which did you hate? Explain.
2. In small groups discuss how your school tries to get teenagers to conform. How does television? Other peers?
3. Write a responsive journal : Why do new people always attract interest in a school or town?
4. Draw two pictures of Erik Valborg: One as the town describes him; the other as Carol sees him at church.
5. Lewis characterizes Main Street as a person on page 359. Write a piece describing the kind of person Main Street would be.

Chapter 29

Questions
1. What kind of child is Hugh? How do his observations color Carol's world and her views?
2. Why does Carol suggest that Erik find out pronunciations of words from the dictionary? What does she imply by this?
3. What is Erik's background? What has reading done for him?
4. What does Erik see in Carol?
5. How does Carol become like Vida in this chapter?
6. Why does Harry Haydock change the location of the tennis matches without telling Erik?
7. What is the real reason Maud Dyer approves of Carol's friendship with Erik?
8. Why hasn't Carol previously made it a point to find out anything about Mrs. Swiftwaite?
9. In trying to rid herself of her small-town image, whom does she subconsciously imitate?

Vocabulary
thrummed (361): pulsated
discursively (361): in a roundabout way
glowered (363): stared angrily
averted (364): looking away
affable (364): friendly
farceur (372): faker

Quotations
"You see, it's so awful recent that I've found there was a world--well, a world where beautiful things counted." (361)

"Oh, I don't want to deny the prairie future. It will be magnificent. But equally I'm hanged if I want to be bullied by it, go to war on behalf of Main Street, be bullied and bullied by the faith that the future is already here in the present, and that all of us must stay and worship wheat - stacks and insist that this is `God's Country' - and never, of course, do anything original or gay-colored that would help to make that future!" (363)

Historical Note/Allusion
Susan B. Anthony (367) Women's Suffragist. Jailed many times for attempting to vote, she believed that if women were to activate change, they needed the opportunity to vote. In 1866 Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the American Equal Rights Association, and in 1868 they started publishing the newspaper The Revolution in Rochester, NY with the masthead "Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less," and the aim of establishing "justice for all." Anthony advocated dress reform for women. She cut her hair and wore the bloomer costume for a year before ridicule convinced her it detracted from the causes she supported. (from "The Susan B. Anthony House" home page), see Works Consulted or Sited section for URL.

Activity
Research leaders of the woman suffrage movement. What did each contribute and when? (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone)

Chapter 30

Questions
1. Why does Carol get jealous of Maud and Erik talking?
2. Why does she call Erik "Will" by mistake?
3. Why does Carol feel guilty about her feelings for Erik?
4. Why doesn't Carol suspect Maud's affair with Kennicott?
5. Why is Carol disappointed that Erik plans to work at the flour mill?
6. How does Carol feel about the success of her marriage?

Vocabulary
sprightliness (377): nimbleness
damascened (377): ornamented with wavy patterns
disquietude (380): being unsettled

Quotations
"But I wonder if she isn't just a bit fond of fishing for men's sympathy? Playing with Erik, and her married - Well - But she looks at him in that languishing, swooning, mid-Victorian way. Disgusting!" (376)

"He was himself, and in him, in the personality that flowed from him, she was, unreasoningly, content." (378) "Don't you think it's a shame, Mrs. Bogart, that people in this town don't do more nice clean things like that, instead of all this horrible gossip?" (380) "I have become a liar. I'm snarled with lies and foggy analyses and desires - I who was clear and sure." (386)

Activities
1. Write a responsive journal discussing a habit you have that you dislike in others. Why do you notice it?
2. In small groups discuss Carol's attraction to Erik in comparison to Kennicott's affair with Maud. How is each couple brought together? How are Carol's and Kennicott's rationalizations of their relationships similar? Share your results with the class.

Chapter 31

Questions
1. Is what Kennicott hears about Carol's opinions true? Explain.
2. Why did Carol want to trust Mrs. Westlake? Whom can she trust now?
3. What is Vida's advice to Carol? What is Carol's response?
4. Why does Carol imagine Will would be lost without her?

Vocabulary
incalculable (388): unable to be figured out
fetishes (388): obsessions
rectitude (392): moral correctness
scrupulously (393): painstakingly careful and thorough; strictly honorable
infractions (393): breaking rules
fatuous (393): stupid
deferential (395): respectful
abysmal (395): extremely bad

Quotations
"Enemies leered through windows, stole on her from the hall." (391)

"There are two insults which no human being will endure: the assertion that he hasn't a sense of humor, and the doubly impertinent assertion that he has never known trouble." (392) "Think how much better you can criticize conventional customs if you yourself live up to them, scrupulously. Then people can't say you're attacking them to excuse your own infractions." (393)

Activity
Respond in a creative journal entry: How prevalent is gossip in your school? How do you deal with it? What effect does it have on those talked about? On those who do the gossiping?

Chapter 32

Questions
1. Why is Mrs. Bogart so adamant that Cy has been corrupted by Fern? Why does Carol feel that the "sinless town [corrupted him], five years ago"?
2. Whose version of the story do you believe - Mrs. Bogart's or Fern's? Why?
3. Whose version of the story does the town believe? Why do they not support Fern? How did Main Street ruin Fern?
4. Why does Carol suspect the town goes so eagerly after Fern and not after the rumors of her own affair?

Vocabulary
interlocutor (396): speaker
unctuous (397): oily
exonerate (406): to free from blame
bovine (408): cowlike

Historical Notes/Allusions
Nemesis (398): in Greek myth, the goddess of punishment. As a reference today, it generally means enemy.
On the scaffold (407): an allusion to Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, in which Hester Prynne refuses to reveal to the town the name of her partner in adultery.

Activity
Stage a school-board hearing based on Fern Mullins's incident with Cy Bogart, using class members as witnesses. Gather testimony from this chapter as evidence.

Chapter 33

Questions
1. Why is Carol in love with Erik? How does her imagination color her perceptions?
2. Why does Carol consciously put on her rubber overshoes?
3. Why does Carol take off her glove?
4. What does Carol think of Erik's poem?
5. Why is Carol frustrated that Will doesn't seem to know about her feelings for Erik?
6. What does Will think about Carol's role in the whole relationship? How does Will convince Carol to let go of Erik?
7. What happens to Carol when Erik leaves town? How did Carol "ruin" Erik?
8. What is the word old Mr. Valborg says to Carol before he leaves? Give reasons for your answer.
9. Why does Will defend Carol in front of Aunt Bessie?
10. How does Carol deflect the town's gossip?

Vocabulary
vacuous (411): empty
abeyance (413): inactivity; stopping
covertly (422): in a hidden manner
catechize (422): preach to

Quotations
"But sometimes he had vanished; he was only an opinion." (412)

"No matter even if you are cold, I like you better than anybody in the world. One time I said that you were my soul. And that still goes." (416)

Activities
1. Write and perform a skit comparing and contrasting Will's and Carol's "ignorance" of each other's romances.
2. Respond in a written journal entry: What is your opinion of Will in this chapter?

Chapter 34

Questions
1. Why do the Kennicotts travel west and not east? What is different about that area of the country?
2. Why is it ironic that they head back home on April 1? Why are Carol's expectations foolish?
3. What was the most important part of the trip to Kennicott? to Carol?
4. How is their conversation with the Haydocks about California different from the one they had had before their trip?
5. What is different in what Carol notices about Main Street and what Will notices?

Quotation
"At that instant she knew that in running away she had merely hidden her doubts behind the officious stir of travel." (429)

Activity
Read Carl Sandburg's poem "Mamie." How is Carol like Mamie?

Chapter 35

Questions
1. How does Carol try to keep herself content? Why is she obsessed with the idea of contentment?
2. Why does Lewis emphasize Champ Perry's deterioration? What does it illustrate?
3. How is Raymie's fall from fame similar to Perry's?
4. Why is Carol aloof to "Honest Jim" Blausser? Why does the town embrace him?
5. How are the improvements to the town different from what Carol would have liked?

Vocabulary
salient (432): a projecting part of a battle line
cootie (432) a body louse
aloof (433): cool, not friendly
imprimateur (433): permission or approval

Quotations
"Carol tried to be content which was a contradiction in terms." (431)

"Kennicott had begged her, in courtship days, to convert the town to beauty. If it was now as beautiful as Mr. Blausser and The Dauntless said, then her work was over, and she could go." (438)

Activities
1. Write a poem or an essay describing what would make Carol content.
2. Write a poem or an essay describing what would make you content.
3. Read aloud Blausser's speech at the Minniemashie House. What kind of accent would you use? Try to capture his appeal to the citizens of Gopher Prairie.
4. Using the description on page 437, design the pamphlet promoting Gopher Prairie.

Chapter 36

Questions
1. Why won't Carol participate in promoting the town?
2. Why doesn't the town want the NNL organizer to speak? What has happened to freedom of speech?
3. What do the people of the town expect from the farmers? Why are they considered different from the townspeople?
4. What does Kennicott think would make Carol contented? Would it? Explain.
5. What makes Carol decide to move to Washington D.C.?
6. How does she feel once she is gone?
7. Why does Hugh like Mrs. Bogart? How does Carol feel about it?
8. What does The Dauntless say the reason for her leaving is?

Vocabulary
Jovian (438): Like Jove, the supreme Roman god.
timorous (440): timid, fearful

Quotations
"Here you been complaining for years about us being so poky, and now when Blausser comes along and does stir up excitement and beautify the town like you've always wanted somebody to, why, you say he's a roughneck, and you won't jump on the band-wagon." (438)

"Precisely how do you expect these aliens to obey your law if the officer of the law teaches them to break it?" (439) "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." (442)

Historical Note/Allusion
National Nonpartisan League: (438-9) Organization of Western farmers and workers formed by Arthur C. Townley in 1915. Its greatest strength was in Minnesota and the Dakotas. It worked to promote state-owned grain elevators, flour mills, and packing houses as well as low-cost public housing.

Chapter 37

Questions
1. How is Washington D.C. different from Gopher Prairie?
2. Why does the Methodist church make her unhappy?
3. How has Gopher Prairie changed Carol?

Vocabulary
enmities (445): hate-relationships
putative (446): reputed or supposed

Quotations
"She discovered that an office is as full of cliques and scandals as a Gopher Prairie." (445)

"She felt that she was no longer one-half of a marriage but the whole of a human being." (446) "Not individuals but institutions are the enemies, and they most affect the disciples who the most generously serve them. They insinuate their tyranny under a hundred guises and pompous names, such as Polite Society, the Family, the Church, Sound Business, the Party, the Country, the Superior White Race; and the only defense against them, Carol beheld, is unembittered laughter." (451)

Activities
1. Reread Sinclair Lewis's details regarding the small towns of America in this chapter. What is similar about them? What are the differences? Select a few of the towns to make a colorful poster showing these similarities and differences.
2. Select one of the "guises of tyranny" from page 451 and make a collage demonstrating how it forces the individual to conform.

Chapter 38

Questions
1. What influences Carol's decision to return to Gopher Prairie?
2. What has happened to the town's promotional campaign since Blausser left?
3. How does Carol's opinion of Bresnehan change, seeing him outside of Gopher Prairie? How is it similar to the way she once was?
4. How has Carol mellowed? How has Kennicott?
5. What does Carol realize about Kennicott while they are in Charleston?
6. Why didn't Carol succeed in reforming Gopher Prairie, according to the "generalissima"?
9. How does Carol plan to survive as an individual back in Gopher Prairie?

Vocabulary
vociferously (453): expressing oneself forcibly and insistently
habitue (454): a "regular"--someone who frequents a place
catacombs (454): underground passageways or cemetery
piqued (457): irritated
feted (461): celebrated
proletariat (461): common person

Quotations
"`But I know it must have been pretty tiresome to have to live with anybody as perfect as I was.' He grinned. She liked his grin." (457)

"It had not occurred to her that there was also a story of Will Kennicott, into which she entered only so much as he entered into hers; that he had bewilderments and concealments as intricate as her own, and soft treacherous desires for sympathy." (460) "Do you want to sacrifice yourself in such a topsy-turvy world, where popularity makes you unpopular with the people you love, and the only failure is cheap success, and the only individualist is the person who gives up all his individualism to serve a jolly ungrateful proletariat which thumbs its nose at him?" (461) "The prairie was no longer empty land in the sun-glare; it was the living tawny beast which she had fought and made beautiful by fighting; and in the village streets were shadows of her desires and the sound of her marching and the seeds of mystery and greatness." (463)

Chapter 39

Questions
1. What is ironic about the change in Carol's friendships?
2. What concessions does she decide to make for Kennicott? Why is this unnecessary?
3. What has changed about Carol's attitude? How does this affect the attitudes of the townspeople?
4. What does Carol realize about Aunt Bessie's meddling?

Vocabulary
ardent (465): heartfelt
foibles (465): mistakes
rhapsodize (465): to talk or write about something in an ecstatic way

Quotations
"Who in Washington could be depended upon like Guy Pollock? When she saw him on the street, smiling as always, he seemed an eternal thing, a part of her own self." (464)

"It was the first time she had called Mrs. Clark by her given name; the first time she had willingly sat back, a woman of Main Street." (470) "But I have won in this: I've never excused my failures by sneering at my aspirations, by pretending to have gone beyond them. I do not admit that Main Street is as beautiful as it should be! I do not admit that Gopher Prairie is greater or more generous than Europe! I do not admit that dish-washing is enough to satisfy all women! I may not have fought the good fight, but I have kept the faith." (471)

Activity
Write a description of a day in the life of Carol Kennicott twenty years after the time of this novel. What is she like? What is her position in the community? Does she continue her battles? If so, how? If not, why not?


Join TeacherVision today

Spend more time teaching and less time searching.
Get full, ad-free access to all our learning resources—curated and vetted by teachers
and curriculum specialists—for one-low price.

Sign Up Sign Up

Go Premium

Get unlimited, ad-free access to all of TeacherVision's printables and resources for as low as $2.49 per month. We have a plan for every budget. 

Select a plan

All plans include a free trial and enjoy the same features. Cancel anytime.
Learn more about Premium