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Babbitt | Study Guide

Sinclair Lewis

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Babbitt | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • April 1920

    Discontented with his life, Babbitt wakes from uneasy dreams and prepares for work.

    Chapter 1
  • Later that spring

    Babbitt uses his "vision" to plan a shady land deal with a speculator against a naive victim.

    Chapter 4
  • Later that spring

    During a club lunch, Paul Riesling tells Babbitt he is miserable in his marriage.

    Chapter 5
  • Later that year

    Babbitt obtains bootleg drinks for dinner guests, casually flaunting the Prohibition law.

    Chapter 8
  • Sometime later

    At the party, friends organize a séance with the assumed spirit of the Italian poet Dante.

    Chapter 9
  • Somewhat later

    After Babbitt chastises Zilla Riesling, she lets her husband go with Babbitt for a vacation outdoors.

    Chapter 10
  • Summer 1920

    Away from domestic stress, the men enjoy their time in rural Maine.

    Chapter 11
  • Later that year

    Babbitt spells out all his clichéd beliefs in a long speech at the Zenith Real Estate Board.

    Chapter 14
  • Early 1921

    Babbitt designs an efficiency plan for the Sunday school and makes important contacts.

    Chapter 16
  • Later that winter

    Babbitt befriends Sir Gerald Doak in Chicago and climbs a bit on the social ladder.

    Chapter 19
  • Soon after

    Babbitt sees Paul Riesling in a Chicago hotel with May Arnold and fears for his friend's marriage.

    Chapter 19
  • March 1921

    Paul finally snaps at Zilla, wounding her seriously.

    Chapter 21
  • Soon after

    With Paul Riesling in prison, Babbitt begins flirtations to find the ideal fairy girl of his dreams.

    Chapter 24
  • August 1921

    Babbitt revisits Maine with guide Joe Paradise, vowing to return to Zenith and lead a truer life.

    Chapter 25
  • Fall 1921

    Babbitt begins an affair with Tanis Judique and becomes involved with her high-living friends.

    Chapter 28
  • September 1921

    During a strike in Zenith, Babbitt begins speaking his mind more liberally.

    Chapter 27
  • Later in 1921

    Spotting Babbitt with his mistress, his friends pressure him to join them in suppressing liberalism.

    Chapter 29
  • Early 1922

    When Babbitt refuses to join his friends, they snub him, and his business suffers.

    Chapter 32
  • Soon after

    When Myra Babbitt becomes ill, Babbitt realizes his duties and swears fidelity to all as she recovers.

    Chapter 33
  • Soon after

    Welcomed back by his friends, Babbitt alone happily accepts his son's elopement.

    Chapter 34

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapters 1–2 The modern, medium-sized American city of Zenith (population between 300,000 and 400,000) is described in close detail... Read More
Chapters 3–4 Babbitt greatly values his car and considers it "poetry and tragedy, love and heroism." He drives and gazes on his nei... Read More
Chapters 5–6 Chapter 5 Babbitt is pleased to identify with each building along the main streets of Zenith, places where he is k... Read More
Chapters 7–8 Babbitt's house is described as very standardized and in line with all the others of its type in Zenith. All houses in... Read More
Chapters 9–10 The Babbitts' party becomes the scene of intense bickering when one of the younger guests, Eddie Swanson, criticizes t... Read More
Chapters 11–12 In New York, as they change trains for Maine, Babbitt also finds reason to be proud of Zenith: "The average fellow in ... Read More
Chapters 13–14 Babbitt is asked to give a speech at a meeting of the State Association of Real Estate Boards, when he happens to ment... Read More
Chapters 15–16 Babbitt is now well known for his public oratory, but he and his wife miss being invited to socialize with the true el... Read More
Chapters 17–18 Babbitt is awed by the large mansion of William Eathorne, exemplary of the original Zenith as first developed in the 1... Read More
Chapters 19–20 Babbitt and his father-in-law, Henry Thompson, profit from a shady development deal that violates all ethical principl... Read More
Chapters 21–22 The Zenith Boosters' Club, led by Vergil Gunch, is organized to promote to the maximum the twin goals of "Service and ... Read More
Chapters 23–24 Babbitt suffers greatly from the absence of Paul Riesling from his life. Being busy at work helps, but his solid frien... Read More
Chapters 25–26 When Myra Babbitt returns following a long absence, Babbitt accepts her presence but mostly wishes to recreate another... Read More
Chapters 27–28 A widespread strike divides opinion in Zenith. Labor is organizing the industries and brings the normal life of the ci... Read More
Chapters 29–30 Babbitt delves deeper and deeper into new, dangerous personal situations. He appears very smitten with Tanis Judique a... Read More
Chapters 31–32 Babbitt is increasingly dissatisfied with all his attachments. He knows he is still averse to his wife and his house, ... Read More
Chapters 33–34 At the moment when Babbitt is the most confused and feeling defiant about not giving in to others' demands, including ... Read More
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