Study Guide

Main Street Religion

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In Main Street, when it comes to religion, the good folks of Gopher Prairie don't mess around. Sure, not everyone is as crazy about the Bible as the old Mrs. Bogart, but it's pretty clear that non-Catholic, non-Mormon Christian is the only way to go if you want to be accepted by the townspeople.

In many cases, Sinclair Lewis suggests that religion isn't really a faith as much as it is an excuse for some people to go around telling others how to act—or, much more importantly, how not to act. We see this trend especially when Mrs. Bogart gets a young teacher named Fern fired just by suggesting that the woman has engaged in immoral behavior. The town knows the story is bogus, but even the suggestion of immorality is enough to ruin a young woman's name in Gopher Prairie.

Questions About Religion

  1. Is there any character in this book who's more annoying than Mrs. Bogart? Why or why not?
  2. How does Mrs. Bogart try to get Carol to come to church more often? What types of things does she tend to say and why?
  3. In Mrs. Bogart's opinion, why is the world constantly getting worse, and what can be done to make it better again?

Chew on This

In Main Street, Sinclair Lewis shows us that it's impossible to be openly religious without also being hypocritical.

Main Street reminds us that even though religion can be strict, it can do a good job of keeping away the spiritual confusion that creates dissatisfaction and deep unhappiness.

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