Study Guide

Main Street Chapter 5

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Chapter 5

  • Will wants to take Carol hunting so she can experience the great outdoors of Gopher Prairie. He borrows a buddy's dog and bustles Carol into his motorcar.
  • Will and Carol reach the prairies, where Will kills a few birds with his rifle. Afterward, they stop by a Scandinavian farmer's house and ask for a glass of milk. Carol is impressed by how much these people adore Will. She admires him for a moment.
  • Carol even wonders for a moment if the farmers are the true leaders of Gopher Prairie, since the town depends so heavily on them.
  • Will takes exception to the idea that the townsfolk are parasites. He says that the farmers depend entirely on the money and goods the town provides them, and he argues that the townsfolk are better-educated and generally superior people. Still, Carol finds a dignity and greatness in the farmland that she doesn't find on Main Street.
  • That evening, Carol meets a guy named Raymie Wutherspoon, who likes to put on little shows for the community. Carol thinks he might turn out to be an interesting guy—but she's disappointed to find out that he's just as boring as anyone else.
  • Carol is surprised to find herself feeling content with being a simple housewife in Gopher Prairie—at least for the first few months of her marriage. She ends up hiring Bea Sorenson as a maid and becomes good chums with her.
  • Carol soon finds herself thinking about having a baby. She decides to wait on this one, but she secretly wishes for someone she can tell all her deepest thoughts to.
  • One day, a woman named Vida Sherwin comes calling on Carol. Vida agrees with Carol that Gopher Prairie is ugly and that it needs some sensible women to clean it up.
  • But Vida is less radical than Carol when it comes to how they'll do this. Vida thinks they should start small, maybe with Carol teaching at the Sunday School. Carol would rather invite a famous architect to come to the town and give a lecture.
  • Vida also invites Carol to join the Thanatopsis Club, which is a reading group that some of the women in the town have organized.
  • When Will gets home from work, Carol invites Vida to stay for supper, and Will invites a lawyer named Guy Pollock to join them. When Guy arrives, he turns out to know a lot about literature.
  • Carol wonders why Guy's working such a routine job and living in Gopher Prairie. She asks Pollock whether he thinks Gopher Prairie should have a dramatic club to host shows for the community.

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