Study Guide

Main Street Family

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Family

In Main Street, once Carol is married, she's expected to start having kids so that she and Will can have a true family. Now, Carol lost both of her parents by the age of eleven and grew up an orphan, so she has a fairly loose connection to the idea of family. On top of that, she doesn't plan on having kids right away, because there's still so much she wants to do with her own life. But she has to weight these ambitions against the crushing expectations that the town of Gopher Prairie is constantly throwing at her.

So, what's a family, anyway? Is it just what the people of Gopher Prairie think it is? Or is it more complicated than that?

Questions About Family

  1. Do you think Main Street gives an optimistic or pessimistic view on the concept of family? Why?
  2. Is there something wrong with Carol that makes her not very eager to have a family?
  3. Why does Carol envy the lives of Bea Sorenson and Miles Bjornstam? What does their family have that Carol's doesn't?
  4. How does Carol deal with the arrival of Will's aunt and uncle into Gopher Prairie? Do you agree with her approach?

Chew on This

In Main Street, Sinclair Lewis suggests that family is more likely to be a burden than a blessing.

Main Street shows us that no matter how frustrated we get with them, we'll always remain devoted to our families.

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