Main Street

Sinclair Lewis
Main Street

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Main Street, by Sinclair Lewis This
eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no
restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it
under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this
eBook or online at
Title: Main Street
Author: Sinclair Lewis
Release Date: January 21, 2006 [EBook #543]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Charles Keller and David Widger


To James Branch Cabell and Joseph Hergesheimer

This is America--a town of a few thousand, in a region of wheat and
corn and dairies and little groves.
The town is, in our tale, called "Gopher Prairie, Minnesota." But its
Main Street is the continuation of Main Streets everywhere. The story
would be the same in Ohio or Montana, in Kansas or Kentucky or
Illinois, and not very differently would it be told Up York State or in
the Carolina hills.
Main Street is the climax of civilization. That this Ford car might stand
in front of the Bon Ton Store, Hannibal invaded Rome and Erasmus
wrote in Oxford cloisters. What Ole Jenson the grocer says to Ezra
Stowbody the banker is the new law for London, Prague, and the
unprofitable isles of the sea; whatsoever Ezra does not know and
sanction, that thing is heresy, worthless for knowing and wicked to
Our railway station is the final aspiration of architecture. Sam Clark's
annual hardware turnover is the envy of the four counties which
constitute God's Country. In the sensitive art of the Rosebud Movie
Palace there is a Message, and humor strictly moral.
Such is our comfortable tradition and sure faith. Would he not betray
himself an alien cynic who should otherwise portray Main Street, or
distress the citizens by speculating whether there may not be other

ON a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations
ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky.
She saw no Indians now; she saw flour-mills and the blinking windows

of skyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of
squaws and portages, and the Yankee fur-traders whose shadows were
all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the plays of
Brieux, the reasons why heels run over, and the fact that the chemistry
instructor had stared at the new coiffure which concealed her ears.
A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheat-lands bellied
her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving
beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened
to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her
arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a
lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking
the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of
expectant youth.
It is Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College.
The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with
axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious
girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American

Blodgett College is on the edge of Minneapolis. It is a bulwark of
sound religion. It is still combating the recent heresies of Voltaire,
Darwin, and Robert Ingersoll. Pious families in Minnesota, Iowa,
Wisconsin, the Dakotas send their children thither, and Blodgett
protects them from the wickedness of the universities. But it secretes
friendly girls, young men who sing, and one lady instructress who
really likes Milton and Carlyle. So the four years which Carol spent at
Blodgett were not altogether wasted. The smallness of the school, the
fewness of rivals, permitted her to experiment with her perilous
versatility. She played tennis, gave chafing-dish parties, took a graduate
seminar in the drama, went "twosing," and joined half a dozen societies
for the practise of the arts or the tense stalking of a thing called General

In her class there were two or three prettier girls, but none more eager.
She was noticeable equally in the classroom grind and at dances,
though out of the three hundred students of Blodgett, scores recited
more accurately and dozens Bostoned more smoothly. Every cell of her
body was alive--thin wrists, quince-blossom skin, ingenue eyes, black
The other girls in her dormitory marveled at the slightness of her body
when they saw her in sheer negligee, or darting out wet from a
shower-bath. She seemed then but half as large as they had supposed; a
fragile child who must be cloaked
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 212
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.