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Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis - Essay Example

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In 'Babbitt', Sinclair Lewis created a satirical masterpiece wherein one man and every minute element of his life provided a reflection of middle class American society in the 1920s. George is weak, discontented, hypocritical, materialistic, superficial and snobbish…
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Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

Examples of these contradictory human traits abound throughout the novel. George believed in material possessions as definitions of his worth, but his discontent with them is evident thus: He hadn't even any satisfaction in the new water cooler! And it was the very best of water coolers,..(p. 26 Chp. 3). His weakness regarding attempts to stop smoking is frequently portrayed, with little plans to thwart himself, such as locking his cigars in a filing cabinet and hiding the key, and his many promises to quit. After his Maine vacation, he had to leave the train to buy a cigar, then later our days later, he again remembered that he had stopped smoking, but he was too busy catching up with his office work to keep it remembered.(p. 116 Chp. 12)
When he found himself accepted as a good orator, at the real estate convention, he was full of bombastic pride, but also a simple pleasure in having his ability so recognized. guess some of the folks on Floral Heights will sit up and take notice now, pay a little attention to old Georgie!(p.128 Chp. 13) There is much endearing boyishness in his enthusiasms and frequent attempts to improve in many areas of his life. His continuing success as an orator has something sadly nostalgic about it, as Babbitt harks back to his unfulfilled desire to have been a lawyer.
His snobbery and social climbing were evident when, after the alumni reunion, he and Mrs. Babbitt gave a disastrous dinner party for the rich McKelveys. He rationalized the fact that these people would not be their friends by telling his wife ut I like to have a chance to visit with you and the children instead of all this idiotic chasing around.(p. 152 Chp. 15). hey did not speak of the McKelveys again.and these words were applied to the Overbrooks, whom the Babbitts considered beneath them, again after an awkward dinner. Both instances demonstrated the good and bad in Babbitt's character and values.
Love and loyalty were shown where Paul Reisling was concerned. Babbitt defended his friend, managed a week of freedom for him from his nagging wife, Zilla and rushed to the prison after Paul shot her. 'm not going to be moral, I just want to do anything I can.(p. 204, Chp. 22) He even offered to perjure himself to get Paul his freedom. With his family, although he found them hard to tolerate, Babbitt showed concern always for their well-being and futures. He spent time with Tinka and Myra and never ignored Ted or Verona, despite their annoying him. When he changed radically in his attempts to break away from his conventional life, he seemed to embrace all that was opposite to his previous character, drinking, dancing, having the affair, and criticizing his old friends. But he showed kindness, loyalty and love when Myra got sick, and returned to being the character first portrayed at the beginning of the novel.
There was a depth of self-awareness in the handling of Ted's youthful marriage and desire to leave university. His reactions and advice to his son showed him as an empathetic and even likable character, despite what is known about him. 've never done a single thing I've wanted to in my whole life! I don't know's I've accomplished anything except just get along....Take your factory job if you want to...Don't be scared...of yourself, like I've been. Go ahead old man! The world is yours!(p. 305 Chp. 34) In ... Read More
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