Study Guide

Main Street Man and the Natural World

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Man and the Natural World

If you ask Carol Kennicott, the best thing about the world of Main Street isn't, you know, Main Street—it's the vast field and forest right outside of Gopher Prairie.

Carol often retreats to the great outdoors in order to get away from the prying eyes and gossiping mouths of the townsfolk. Of course, no amount of nature can compensate for the fact that Carol is eager to have some adventure and culture in her life, things she feels she can only get by living in a big city. She's tired of just being another country bumpkin, but as long as she's stuck in Gopher Prairie, nature is going to be one of her only pleasures. It's even one of the few things she and her husband Will can agree on.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. How does Sinclair Lewis tend to portray nature in this book? Is it negative, positive, or both? Why?
  2. Where do Erik Valbourg and Carol first speak to one another alone? What's the significance of the location?
  3. At what moments does nature give some comfort and satisfaction to Carol? Why do you think this is?

Chew on This

In Main Street, nature is satisfying because it helps people escape the anthill of human pettiness.

Main Street shows that nature is much uglier than people like to think.

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