Discussion Paper of Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt
Babbitt is a truly unique novel that provides a very intriguing glimpse of social, marital,
and home life in the 1920’s in the United States.
Lewis does a splendid job of showing that life
in this time period is full of hypocrisy, materialism, and saturated with a desire by the average
person to attain a more fulfilling life.
Through the life of George F. Babbitt, Lewis exemplifies
these ideas, through the adventures Babbitt embarks on or the lack there of, through relationships
he has with individuals such as his wife, Myra, his friends, and his co-workers.
Lewis also uses
the many unethical business agreements and actions Babbitt takes part in to describe this idea of
a society that is determined to achieve a high social status, no matter what that cost may be.
Lewis argues this concept of the 1920’s being overwhelmed with hypocrisy through
Babbitt’s many ironic situations, such as his preaching on ethics, but engaging in unethical
This irony and hypocrisy is seen in Babbitt’s conversation with Paul Riesling
when Paul says, “You’re always talking about “morals”-meaning monogamy, I suppose.
been the rock of ages to me, all right, but you’re essentially a simp.”(Pg. 70)
Paul then goes on
to explain what he meant by simp, “In fact you’re so earnest about morality, old Georgie, that I
hate to think how essentially immoral you must be underneath.”(Pg. 70)
Everyone knows that
what is going on in the business world is writhed with immoral deals and acts that companies
and people engage in to gain some sort of advantage in business.
Like in section five of chapter
four, when Babbitt urges a friend to buy a plot of land that he knew was going to be used as an
extension for Mr. Purdy’s meat business.
Lewis uses these examples, as well as others, to show