Study Guide

Main Street Love

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Love

"You know I'm in love with you, Carol!" (2.2.16)

Will Kennicott puts his heart on the line when he first tells Carol he loves her. This is the early romantic phase of their relationship, because over time, Will is going to become pretty dull in his daily habits. He certainly won't be this romantic for long.

She was ready to love them. But she was embarrassed by the heartiness of the cheering group. (3.3.15)

When Carol first arrives in Gopher Prairie, she's a bit embarrassed by how affectionate the welcoming committee is. She hopes she can match their enthusiasm, but the truth is that she's kind of a guarded person when it comes to cheerfulness. On top of that, she feels superior to these people (for some good reasons, but still), and she knows it. Can you love people you feel superior to?

He lifted her, carried her into the house, and with her arms about his neck she forgot Main Street. (4.4.137)

The first time Carol feels Will pick her up and carry her into their new home, she forgets all about how lame she finds the town of Gopher Prairie. Moments like this will eventually become rare, though, as Will settles into his regular, non-romantic routines. It's as if now that Will has found his wife and set up his home, he feels he can just relax and let things go. Maybe that's one of the reasons this marriage doesn't work out as well as it could.

"No, I couldn't fall in love with him. I like him, very much. But he's too much of a recluse. Could I kiss him?" (14.1.1)

At one point, Carol looks for companionship from an emotional guy named Guy Pollock. Guy is everything that Will Kennicott isn't, but Carol eventually loses interest in him because his sensitivity strikes her as whiny and wussy.

She suddenly saw the foot-board of the bed as the foot-stone of the grave of love. (14.1.86)

It's about midway through the book that Carol decides once and for all that she's no longer in love with her husband. In fact, she has to question whether she was ever in love with him to begin. So what's the problem? Is marriage itself to blame, or is there something in particular about this marriage that keeps Will and Carol's love from lasting?

That December she was in love with her husband. (15.1.1)

But wait a second. Carol's love for her husband comes roaring back one winter, which just makes us wonder whether Carol is a little bit fickle when it comes to love—maybe because she doesn't quite know what she wants. Her love seems to come and go with the changing seasons. Still, over the long run, she seems to fall more toward non-love than love.

With the loneliness of one who has put away a possible love Carol saw that he was a stranger. (16.5.17)

Yup, it's a chapter later, and Carol has decided that she doesn't love her husband, after all. She feels totally estranged from him, because the two of them are just very different people who aren't on the same page about anything. Well, that's a good enough reason, we guess.

Vida insisted that she loved Carol, but with some satisfaction she compared her to these traducers of the town. (21.1.35)

Vida Sherwin likes to think that she loves Carol… but she also likes to see Carol fail. Maybe it's because Vida once loved Carol's husband Will. Who knows? All we know is that Vida has a love and a hate for Carol that's difficult to untangle. Frenemies for life!

"Am I falling in love with this boy? That's ridiculous! I'm merely interested in him." (29.5.3)

Carol realizes at one point that she has a romantic attraction to the young tailor's assistant, Erik Valbourg. Part of her knows that the attraction isn't really that big a deal, but her life feels so empty and unfulfilling that she can't help but give into the thought of romance between them.

"You do like me! I'm going to make you love me!" (30.4.31)

Erik Valbourg can sense Carol's hesitation when she asks him to leave her alone, but he's certain that the two of them are kindred spirits who are destined to be together. This dream ends pretty quickly, though, when Carol's husband finds out about the affair and more or less runs Erik out of town.

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