Both Bea's and Olaf's conditions worsen. Vida Sherwin, Maud Dryer, and the minister's wife call on the Bjornstams. Bjornstam does not welcome them inside, condemning them for not visiting Bea when she was well. The women leave, insulted. When Olaf and Bea die, the townspeople remark that Bjornstam probably mistreated them. Bjornstam leaves Gopher Prairie to move to Canada. Because many people in town dislike him, they cheer his departure.
The Kennicotts' deteriorating marriage provides the main focus of Chapters 24 and 25. The interior conflict of Carol and Will, who represents all of Gopher Prairie in many aspects, counterbalances the exterior conflict between Carol and Gopher Prairie throughout the novel. While Carol demands reform, Kennicott proves to be a willing slave to routine, "fixed in routine as an isolated old man." When Carol yearns for what she considers beautiful and noble, Kennicott scorns her highbrow attitude.
As literary critic Mark Schorer points out, the two protagonists prove to be familiar American types: the complacent husband who possesses common sense and solidity and the discontented wife who possesses romantic dreams. While Lewis presents Gopher Prairie as a microcosm for America as a whole, he also presents Carol and Kennicott as representative of the American husband and wife. In many ways, their struggle represents the eternal conflict between the opposite sexes, which Carol sums up in Chapter 24: "There are two races of people, only two, and they live side by side. His calls mine 'neurotic'; mine calls his 'stupid." We'll never understand each other. [We are] enemies, yoked."
Giving both Carol and Kennicott admirable traits along with character flaws—Carol's instability and dreaminess and Kennicott's dullness and materialism—Lewis does not take sides in the conflict between them. While most of the novel is told through Carol's point of view, Chapter 25 is the only chapter told entirely through Kennicott's point of view. Through the arguments between Carol and Kennicott, we see Carol through Kennicott's eyes as snobbish and temperamental and may even agree with his assessment of her.
Some critics have asserted that Main Street lacks a proper, consistent hero. While Carol appears silly to dream about reforming the whole town, she is one of the few characters who recognizes the town's ugliness, narrow-mindedness, and hypocrisy. On the other hand, Vida's plan for gradual reform appears more sensible and realistic, even though Vida proves too conventional and too willing to follow the crowd. While Lewis describes the heroic life of Kennicott as a country doctor, Will proves to be too crude and too content with a mundane small-town life to be a hero.
In Chapter 25, Lewis narrates the exchanges between Maud and Kennicott so subtly that we must read between the lines to understand what exactly happens. Throughout the novel, Lewis presents the atmosphere of small-town life as claustrophobic. The gossipy ladies in town form almost a network of spies, thinking that they can know everything about everyone in town. In fact, Gopher Prairie does not prove to be a haven for virtue as the romantic literary tradition of portraying small towns implies. Both Harry Haydock and Nat Hicks enjoy love affairs, and even Kennicott cannot resist the temptation of Maud Dryer. His affair with Maud further reflects the ever-widening separation between him and Carol.