The lonely predicament of Carol Kennicott, caught between her desires for social reform and individual happiness, reflects the position in which Americas turn-of-the-century, emancipated woman found herself. Carols dilemma is intensified by the fact that she lives in the small, self-satisified, Midwestern town of Gopher Prairie. An allegory of exile and return, Main Street attacks the drab complacency and ingrown mores of those who resist change, who are under the illusion that they have chosen their tradition. Carols ostracism, however, results more from her rejection by those whom she would have changed.
Maxwell Geismar lauded this work as a remarkable diary of the middle-class mind in America. Its author was hailed by John Galsworthy for having written a most searching and excellent piece of work- a feather in the cap of literature.