Shallow Babbit

In: Novels

Submitted By sherold
Words 1396
Pages 6
Sunny Herold
Professor Moore
History 132: Paper #2
2 December 2009
Shallow Babbitt George F. Babbitt is a text-book example of a conformist businessman whose life is based on appearance and material items. Lewis not only accurately portrays Babbitt as a symbol of the shady business world of the 1920’s, but also makes him a symbol of sympathy. Babbitt’s shallow fixations and arrogant behavior throughout the book reflect May Sinclair’s review of Babbitt as “a bundle of pompous negations, futilities, [and] preposterous vanities” (May Sinclair, “The Man from Main Street,” The New York Times, September 24, 1922). Although his character is criticized in such a negative light, his troubles are realistic and easy to relate to. Even with all of his amenities and thriving job, Babbitt is unhappy and fantasizes regularly. When Babbitt finally realizes his discontent and tries to change, he is shunned from the community. The setting of the novel is the 1920’s in a fictional city called Zenith, a typical booming town full of factories, hope, and skyscrapers. Lewis correctly depicts the time period after WWI, when business was booming and materialism was rampant. Everything was about industry and conforming. Everyone longed to have the best and most recent appliances and the best appearance. Therefore, there was a huge increase in consumer spending. Babbitt’s house in Floral Heights is described as being “right out of Cheerful Modern Houses for Medium Incomes” (Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, 18). There is no description of the joyful family activities taken place in the home, just trifling narrative about appliances and furniture. “In fact there was but one thing wrong with the Babbitt house: It was not a home” (Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, 19). Babbitt puts more effort into the appearance of his house and the appliances in it than he puts into his relationships with his family.…...

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