Term Paper: Lewis Sinclair's Babbitt- American Society

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[. . .] Even the language that he uses to converse with others businessmen is typical of our suburban class. When he greets his friends at the Zenith Athletic Club, we can't ignore the style of interaction, which is so very typical of this class. 'How's the old Botsheviki? How do you feel, the morning after the night before?' 'Oh, boy! Some head! That was a regular party you threw, Verg! Hope you haven't forgotten I took that last cute little jack-pot!' Babbitt bellowed...'That's all right now! What I'll hand you next time, Georgie! Say, juh notice in the paper the way the New York Assembly stood up to the reds?' 'You bet I did. That was fine, the? Nice day today.' (49)

Babbitt is a shallow figure for most part of the novel. While he is not entirely incapable of real friendship (Monarch Notes, 1963), still he is also guilty of the same shady ethical standards practiced by the other businessmen for selfish financial gains. His ability to remain friends with a complete opposite Paul, and his acceptance of dubious ethics highlight the conflict that marks this important character of Sinclair's novel. Babbitt is a classic representative of American business class society and helps in bringing their problems, confusions, ethical standards, moral sense and desires to the fore. American business class is always looking for a way to rise to the next rung in the social ladder. It is never completely satisfied with what it has and this is the major source of discontentment in this class, which is adequately captured by Lewis through Babbitt. Sinclair appears to believe that somewhere in the beginning very businessman in the United States must have been motivated by power of his own idealism than materialism. But along the road, he lost all sense of purpose and began gathering all kinds of high social status symbols including expensive watches, luxury cars, exquisite decoration items etc. In his pursuit to be counted as an important member of the society, he lost all sense of direction and this resulted in deep resentment and discontentment, which Babbitt's character signifies perfectly.


James M. Hutchisson, Sinclair Lewis: New Essays in Criticism. Whitston Publishing. Troy, NY. 1997.

Works of Sinclair Lewis: General Commentary., Monarch Notes, 01-01-1963. [END OF PREVIEW]

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