Babbitt | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Babbitt | Characters

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Character Description
Babbitt Father of three, George F. Babbitt is a 46-year-old real-estate developer and civic leader in Zenith. He has personal as well as professional doubts about himself and must endure self-inflicted trials of his beliefs and attachments before finally settling for a life of material privilege and mundane routine. Read More
Myra Babbitt Married for 23 years as the novel begins, Myra Babbitt is Babbitt's loyal and dutiful wife. She does not voice her questions about her husband's business dealings as long as he treats her kindly. Read More
Ted Babbitt Theodore Roosevelt, or Ted, Babbitt is the high-school-aged son in the Babbitt family. He is interested in mechanical work and seems a stereotypical adolescent: uninterested in school and looking for fun and freedom from restrictions. Read More
Paul Riesling Paul Riesling, Myra Babbitt's cousin, is an old university friend of Babbitt. They have maintained an unusually close bond for decades, meeting as often as they can to talk and confide. Read More
Zilla Riesling Zilla Riesling is Paul Riesling's demanding and unstable wife. Whenever they are referred to, she is making his personal life miserable. Read More
Tanis Judique A young widow in Zenith, Tanis Judique meets Babbitt when she is in need of housing. She flirts openly and is receptive to the full-blown affair they have. Read More
Vergil Gunch A successful coal dealer in Zenith, politically and socially conservative Vergil Gunch spends a lot of time at the various clubs and groups Babbitt and his friends belong to. Read More
May Arnold May Arnold is the woman Babbitt sees with Paul Riesling in Chicago—proof that Paul has been engaging in risky domestic behavior.
Martin Babbitt Babbitt's half-brother Martin Babbitt pays the family a visit with his own children. He displays odd manners in inquiring about the prices of all the things he sees in their house.
Babbitt's mother Babbitt's mother (whom he partly supports) visits and tells irritating stories about him as a child.
Tinka Babbitt Known as "Tinka," Katherine Babbitt is the youngest in the family. She displays a sweet nature and gives her father pleasure during lonely times.
Verona Babbitt The oldest child of George and Myra, Verona Babbitt is portrayed as unappealing. A college graduate, she seems dedicated to social welfare and reform movements, occupations that irritate her parents.
Sir Gerald Doak A British industrialist, Sir Gerald Doak visits the McKelveys, making the visit a social event in Zenith. Babbitt, who felt snubbed by not being invited, meets Doak in Chicago and entertains him, finding him approachable and friendly, unlike Doak's hosts in Zenith.
Seneca Doane A university classmate of Babbitt's, Seneca Doane influences Babbitt with his left-wing politics when they reconnect. Because of Doane's questionable political views, Babbitt opposes him but later defends him. When Babbitt returns to his conservative views, he abandons Doane.
Sam Doppelbrau Samuel Doppelbrau is the Babbitts' neighbor in Floral Heights. They have a superficial friendship, and Babbitt thinks the Doppelbraus give wild parties.
John Jennison Drew Presbyterian minister John Jennison Drew is more concerned with the practical aspects of Christianity than the faith. Babbitt works well with him on those aspects but has a low regard for any spiritual guidance Drew could provide and finally avoids him.
Clarence Drum A shoe merchant in Zenith, Captain Clarence Drum takes an important role in suppressing the labor strike.
William Eathorne A direct descendant of one of Zenith's founders, William W. Eathorne has great prestige in Zenith as head of a bank. Wielding much power even in his old age, he admires Babbitt's organizational duties and supports him until Babbitt enters his liberal stage.
Kenneth Escott Serious reporter and press agent for the Sunday school, Kenneth Escott eventually marries Verona Babbitt after a long, tepid engagement.
Sidney Finkelstein A leading member of the group around Babbitt, Sidney Finkelstein is chief buyer at the local department store. He is never shy about expressing his opinions, including nasty anti-Semitic ones about his own family, but they go uncommented on as an indication of the casual bigotry of the time.
Chum Frink Skilled writer of rhymed ad copy in the overblown, clichéd style Babbitt admires, T. Cholmondeley "Chum" Frink appears often with the other "Roughnecks," Babbitt's friends at the Athletic Club and other social functions. His trite work mixes advertising copy with banal poetry in a way popular audiences can understand.
Stanley Graff Stanley Graff works in outside real-estate sales at Babbitt-Thompson. When he is found dealing unscrupulously with clients, he is fired after a heated argument with his boss.
Chester Laylock Chester Laylock sells properties specifically in the new Glen Oriole housing development Babbitt is pushing.
Eunice Littlefield Lively Eunice Littlefield is the Babbitts' next-door neighbor. She and Ted Babbitt are a young and fun-loving couple, as many of the older married couples used to be.
Howard Littlefield The next-door neighbor of the Babbitts, Howard Littlefield, PhD, is pretentious and prone to spewing statistics. He and Babbitt don't care much for each other but will be linked by their children's marriage.
Conrad Lyte A real-estate speculator, Conrad Lyte plays along with Babbitt in a particularly shady but profitable deal.
Theresa McGoun Theresa McGoun, Babbitt's stenographer, works to simplify his florid language. Babbitt has flirted with her. She quits for a job with their rival when the firm is in trouble after Babbitt's liberal ideas are revealed.
Charles McKelvey More popular and magnetic at university than Babbitt, Charles McKelvey has become a millionaire in Zenith. Although he is friendly to Babbitt when they meet, a deep social gap divides them.
Lucile McKelvey Rich and stylish, Lucile McKelvey is written about in exaggerated terms in the society pages of the paper for her wardrobe and parties. She lives far above others as a result of her class superiority and liberated behavior.
Sylvester Moon Sylvester Moon services Babbitt's treasured automobile. They discuss local politics.
Opal Emerson Mudge Mrs. Opal Emerson Mudge gives a lecture for the Illumination League on vague spiritual influences from various sects.
Ed Overbrook Babbitt's less successful college classmate Ed Overbrook invites the Babbitts to his home for dinner. Bored, the Babbitts consider Overbrook and his wife below them socially and don't reciprocate with an invitation. In a sense they take revenge on the Overbrooks for the snub they received from the McKelveys.
Joe Paradise Joe Paradise leads Babbitt on an untamed excursion into the Maine woods.
Lucas Prout Lucas Prout is the mayor of Zenith, having defeated Seneca Doane. Because he worked to get Prout elected, Babbitt now can ask favors.
Joseph Pumphrey Joseph Pumphrey is a member of Babbitt's circle of friends from the business college faculty in public speaking.
Archibald Purdy Archibald Purdy is a local grocer tricked badly in an unethical real-estate deal by Babbitt and Conrad Lyte.
Ida Putiak Shallow and grasping, Ida Putiak is an adolescent manicurist that Babbitt pursues as he enjoys temporary freedom from his wife. Her teasing soon turns him off in shame at what he was planning.
Colonel Rutherford Snow Colonel Rutherford Snow owns the local newspaper in Zenith and opposes the strike.
Eddie Swanson A younger guest entertained by Babbitt, Eddie Swanson is unhappy with his wife's spending habits and complains to everyone.
Louetta Swanson Louetta Swanson, Eddie Swanson's wife, pays little attention to her husband and continues to flirt. She is especially alluring to Babbitt, who sees her as an embodiment of his fantasy dream girl.
Henry Thompson Babbitt's partner in the realty firm, Henry J. Thompson also deals unethically and expresses no admiration for his son-in-law.
Kurt Yavitch Kurt Yavitch, a scientist, debates standardization with Seneca Doane and denounces Zenith.
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