Study Guide

Main Street Marriage

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Marriage

Don't get married on Main Street, folks. Chances are it ain't gonna be pretty; after all, it's hard to have a good marriage if you actually hate your life.

At least that's what happens to Carol Kennicott. When she first marries Will Kennicott, Carol thinks she's walking into a fairy tale and that she will live happily ever after. But that whole fantasy comes crashing down when she gets her first look at Gopher Prairie: she almost instantly realizes that she has made a huge mistake and wishes she could escape from it.

As the years go by, Carol tries to make the best of her situation, but the truth is that marriage never comes easy for Carol. Everyone else thinks she should just settle down and be content with being a housewife and washing the dishes, but Carol will never feel this way. She has too much ambition and wants to leave a mark on the world, and married life prevents her from following these dreams.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Do you think Carol made a mistake by marrying Will Kennicott? Did Will make a mistake by marrying her? Why or why not?
  2. How does Carol deal with being stuck in a marriage she doesn't like? What are some of the strategies she uses to make it more bearable?
  3. How do society's expectations for Carol change once she's married to Will? Does she like the change?

Chew on This

In Main Street, we learn that marriage is a prison unless both partners feel like they have an equal voice in the relationship.

In Main Street, Sinclair Lewis shows us that it's silly to believe that a marriage can be satisfying forever.

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