A Satirical Analysis Of Sinclair Lewis 'Babbitt'

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Satirical Portrayal of the 1920s Through Sinclair Lewis 's Babbitt The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a babbitt as "a person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards." Babbitts have existed for centuries. They have questioned the structure of their society and toyed with the idea of letting their actions reflect their social beliefs. After this rebellious kind of thinking has taken place in the minds of the babbitts, they have weighed the consequences of their clashing with traditional society. The babbitts have undergone intense contemplation, and all babbitts have eventually come to the conclusion that conformity is the solution. Over time, babbitts have
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The novel begins with an immediate depiction of Babbitt 's dissatisfaction with his life when he expresses his unhappiness that his wife Myra awakens him from his sleep and forces him to return to reality.1 The reader learns that Babbitt would rather live in his dream with a fairy child than live in reality with his wife, whom he views to be "as sexless as an anemic nun."2 As the novel progresses, Babbitt 's daily life is portrayed. Although his life seems to be going well, as seen in his financial state and social status, there are many glimpses of his unhappiness, as seen in the corruption of his business transactions and the dislike he has for his family. Babbitt 's thinking then undergoes much change when his friend Paul begins complaining to Babbitt about how dissatisfied he is with his life. According to Morefield, Paul can be compared to a mirror reflecting Babbitt 's discontent with his own life.3 Paul 's nonconformist ideas influence Babbitt 's social and political viewpoints, and when Babbitt begins to publically express his opinions, he is rejected by his wealthy friends who begin to view him as a socialist.4 In response to his declining reputation, along with Myra 's sickness, Babbitt ultimately makes the decision to conform to society in order to prevent the loss…show more content…
The only person who supports Babbitt when he expresses his true beliefs for a short period of time is his son, Ted. Their relationship does not falter when Babbitt publicizes his liberal views, but rather it is strengthened.21 Ted feels proud of his father for being an individual instead of believing in whatever would allow him to maintain wealth, good reputation, and social influence. When Babbitt brings his brief period of nonconformity to an end, his last hope for individuality in his life is through his son. At the very end of the novel, the reader learns that Ted elopes with the girl next door. While Myra and all of Babbitt 's neighbors criticize the marriage, Babbitt secretly tells his son that he is proud of him for being his own person. This shows that, although Babbitt choose conformity for his own life, he is not satisfied with the materialistic and conformist lifestyle that has resulted from this decision. According to Conroy, Babbitt looks to his son for hope for an end to discontentment.22 His only hope to escape the complete bondage of conformity is to encourage his son to be an individual and prevent him from falling into the same lifestyle in which
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