Study Guide

Main Street Class

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

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In Main Street, class is a complicated thing. Make no mistake: Gopher Prairie likes to refer to itself as a democratic place, but there are limits to how much the wealthy folks in town are willing to mingle with the poor folks.

Carol Kennicott is ashamed at how much the town lives off the hard work of laborers and farmers who are forced to live in slums in the countryside. But whenever she expresses this shame, the middle class folks of Gopher Prairie jump all over her and call her a socialist. They don't take too kindly to being criticized, and when it comes to worker relations, they're more than happy to consider themselves better than farmers and laborers.

Questions About Class

  1. Which class would you say Will and Carol Kennicott are in (lower, middle, upper)? Why?
  2. How does Will respond to Carol's comments about the townspeople being parasites who live off the farmers?
  3. Is there anyone Carol can talk to about her progressive views on class and workers' rights? Who and why?
  4. Where do you think Carol gets her ideas about class? Why?

Chew on This

In Main Street, Sinclair Lewis suggests that class snobbery is an evil that will never go away.

Main Street shows us that there are class differences because some people are better off than others—and think it is because they are just plain better than others.

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