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Babbitt ()


The Hungry Mind Review's 100 Best 20th Century Books

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where [is] the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
-Jeremiah, 6:16



Odd, isn't it, that George F. Babbitt should be one of the most reviled characters in American literature?  What, after all, is his great crime ?  It's not that he's a conformist; we're all conformists of one kind or another; such is the nature of social creatures.  No, the problem with George Babbitt, that which has so incensed intellectuals for some eighty-odd years is the set of ideas that he conforms to : Middle American ideals--hard work, thrift, salesmanship, conservatism, Christianity, family values, monogamy, the whole panoply of traditional morays of which the Left is so contemptuous.

George's story is fairly simple.  A successful Realtor in the booming midwestern city of Zenith, married with three children, George is a pillar of the community and a support to his family, but he's not happy.  Everyone is always coming to him with their complaints about life, but he's never supposed to question his lot.  Then his friend, Paul Riesling, begins to express his own dissatisfaction and together the two begin to sow some wild oats.  George goes along on a trip to Maine without their wives, but eventually Paul sprints ahead by first having an affair and then shooting his wife.

George, who had tried reigning Paul in, now proceeds to have his own affair with the widow Tanis Judique.  He also starts to hang out with some of Tanis's scruffy friends and to vocally question the received wisdom of Zenith's business community.  But George's wife, Myra, finds out about the affair and George's business partners bail out on a few deals.  Meanwhile, George discovers that Tanis, though her life seemed freer at first, is just as bound by societal conventions as he.

With his own business now suffering and the bloom off of his new romance, George is already beginning to waiver, and when Myra comes down with a potentially deadly case of appendicitis, he realizes that he wants his old life back.  Myra and his friends welcome him back to the fold.

In a final scene, George's son elopes, and he surprises everyone by accepting the marriage.  He even tells the boy that he should seize his opportunities now, because he (George) never truly did anything he wanted to his whole life.

Now I understand that on the surface this does seem like an indictment of middle America, but it also reads like a cautionary tale, defending Zenith and its citizens from the notion that they'd be happier if they rebelled.  In fact, the most convincing and moving moments in the whole book come when George returns to Myra :
Then was Babbitt caught up in the black tempest.

Instantly all the indignations which had been dominating him and the spiritual dramas through
    which he had struggled became pallid and absurd before the ancient and overwhelming realities, the
    standard and traditional realities, of sickness and menacing death, the long night, and the thousand
    steadfast implications of married life. He crept back to her. As she drowsed away in the tropic
    languor of morphia, he sat on the edge of her bed, holding her hand, and for the first time in many
    weeks her hand abode trustfully in his.

He draped himself grotesquely in his toweling bathrobe and a pink and white couch-cover, and sat
    lumpishly in a wing-chair. The bedroom was uncanny in its half-light, which turned the curtains to
    lurking robbers, the dressing-table to a turreted castle. It smelled of cosmetics, of linen, of sleep. He
    napped and woke, napped and woke, a hundred times. He heard her move and sigh in slumber; he
    wondered if there wasn't some officious brisk thing he could do for her, and before he could quite
    form the thought he was asleep, racked and aching. The night was infinite. When dawn came and
    the waiting seemed at an end, he fell asleep, and was vexed to have been caught off his guard, to
    have been aroused by Verona's entrance and her agitated "Oh, what is it, Dad?"

His wife was awake, her face sallow and lifeless in the morning light, but now he did not compare
    her with Tanis; she was not merely A Woman, to be contrasted with other women, but his own self,
    and though he might criticize her and nag her, it was only as he might criticize and nag himself,
    interestedly, unpatronizingly, without the expectation of changing--or any real desire to
    change--the eternal essence.
Forgive me if I'm being overly obtuse, but doesn't that "eternal" make it sound like Lewis is serious about this, that this relationship is the touchstone of Babbitt's existence and should be ?

Likewise, perhaps the truest and certainly the funniest social criticism in the book is aimed not at the good people of Zenith, but at those who would change them.  When The Reverend Mike Monday, who might easily be nothing but a caricature of a huckster preacher, comes to town, he says the following in his sermon :
There's a lot of smart college professors and tea-guzzling slobs in this burg that say I'm a
    roughneck and a never-wuzzer and my knowledge of history is not-yet. Oh, there's a gang of
    woolly-whiskered book-lice that think they know more than Almighty God, and prefer a lot of Hun
    science and smutty German criticism to the straight and simple Word of God. Oh, there's a swell
    bunch of Lizzie boys and lemon-suckers and pie-faces and infidels and beer-bloated scribblers that
    love to fire off their filthy mouths and yip that Mike Monday is vulgar and full of mush. Those
    pups are saying now that I hog the gospel-show, that I'm in it for the coin. Well, now listen, folks!
    I'm going to give those birds a chance! They can stand right up here and tell me to my face that
    I'm a galoot and a liar and a hick! Only if they do...if they do...don't faint with surprise if some
    of those rum-dumm liars get one good swift poke from Mike, with all the kick of God's Flaming
    Righteousness behind the wallop! Well, come on, folks! Who says it? Who says Mike Monday is a
    fourflush and a yahoo? Huh? Don't I see anybody standing up? Well, there you are! Now I guess
    the folks in this man's town will quit listening to all this kyoodling from behind the fence; I guess
    you'll quit listening to the guys that pan and roast and kick and beef, and vomit out filthy
    atheism; and all of you'll come in, with every grain of pep and reverence you got, and boost all
    together for Jesus Christ and his everlasting mercy and tenderness!
Sure, Lewis may have thought this was so over-the-top as to preclude the reader paying any heed to the message, or he may have meant it as nothing more than self-deprecating humor, but isn't it at least possible that he suspected we'd prefer this kind of muscular Christianity to the offerings of the lemon-sucking professors, maybe even that he himself preferred it ?  If Monday is supposed to be one of the bad guys, ask yourself this, outside of Richard III, when's the last time you recall the bad guy getting such funny lines at the expense of the good guys ?

At any rate, however Lewis intended us to take the story of George Babbitt and his abortive rebellion, the past eighty years have certainly vindicated the morality, even the hypocrisy, of Zenith and its most famous resident.  George Babbitt is really one of the heroes of American Literature, all the more so because he chafes at the tugging of the reins but keeps pulling the wagon.  Of such sacrifices are great nations and great cultures made.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A)

  

Websites:

Sinclair Lewis Links:

    -REVIEW: of Library of America--Sinclair Lewis Novels (Steve Vineberg, Boston Phoenix)

Book-related and General Links:
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : "sinclair lewis"
    -Sinclair Lewis (kirjasto)
    -ETEXT : Babbitt (1922) (Bartleby)
    -Nobel Prize in Literature 1930: Sinclair Lewis (Nobel E Museum)
    -Sinclair Lewis, Winner of the 1930 Noble Prize in Literature (Nobel Internet Archive)
    -Sinclair Lewis Society
    -Sinclair Lewis: As Only His Home Town Could Know Him (Sauk Centre Herald)
    -Sinclair Lewis (1885 - 1951) (The Internet Public Library, Online Literary Criticism Collection)
    -Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) (New Grub Street)
    -Lewis, Sinclair  Writer (1885-1951) (American History 102)
    -Chapter 7: Early Twentieth Century - Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) (PAL: Perspectives in American Literature:  A Research and Reference Guide  An Ongoing Online Project © Paul P. Reuben | EMail: its4pr@charter.net |)
    -ESSAY : `No Decent Man Would Accept a Degree He Hadn't Earned' (P. J. Wingate, Christian Science Monitor)
    -ESSAY : MY SUMMER JOB WITH SINCLAIR LEWIS  (John Hersey,  May 10, 1987, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY : SINCLAIR LEWIS RECALLED IN GROLIER CLUB DISPLAY  (HERBERT MITGANG,  February 17, 1985, NY Times)
    -ESSAY : Prescribing 'Arrowsmith'  (Howard Markel, September 24, 2000, NY times)
    -ESSAY : The Western Writings of Sinclair Lewis (GLEN A. LOVE, Literary History of the American West)
    -ESSAY : The Romance of Real Estate (Judith Shulevitz,  February 25, 2001, NY Times Book Review)
    -ARCHIVES : "Sinclair Lewis" (NY Review of Books)
    -ARCHIVES : "Sinclair Lewis" (Find Articles)
    -ONLINE STUDY GUIDE :  Babbitt  by Sinclair Lewis  (Selena Ward, Spark Notes)
    -REVIEW : of Arrowsmith (Henry Longan Stuart, March 8, 1925, NY Times)
    -ANNOTATED REVIEW : Lewis, Sinclair  Arrowsmith (Felice Aull, Medical Humanities)
    -REVIEW : of IF I WERE BOSS: THE EARLY BUSINESS STORIES OF SINCLAIR LEWIS Edited by Anthony Di Renzo (Linda Laird Giedl, Christian Science Monitor)
    -REVIEW : of SINCLAIR LEWIS : Rebel From Main Street. By Richard Lingeman (Jane Smiley, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of 'Sinclair Lewis: Rebel From Main Street' by Richard Lingeman (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW : of 'Sinclair Lewis: Rebel From Main Street' By Richard Lingeman (Martin Rubin, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : of Sinclair Lewis by Richard Lingeman (Martin Bucco, Special to The Denver Post)
 

FILMS :
    -FILMOGRAPHY : Sinclair Lewis (Imdb.com)
    -INFO : Elmer Gantry (1960) (Imdb.com)

Comments:

Babbitt is clearly not a hero. He is a foolish and childish man. He is easily convinced and manipulated because he fails to take the time to understand his world. He is lazy and following the crowd is the simplest thing to do. His attitude is pervasive, when looking at the American population. I think this is what Lewis was getting at. If anything, we should pity Babbitt and pity ourselves when we fail to think. All of Babbitt's adventures and misadventures center on that simple fact, he doesn't think for himself. The entire backdrop of hardworking American "pep" is a hollow shell. Babbitt doesn't know why he works hard or why he is successful. He finally realizes this, and starts to focus, but its too late for him. He gives the baton to his son. The moral, if there is one, could go something like this: Be conservative, liberal, or anything, but do it because you have decided to be that or do that. To often I see people backing a political viewpoint based on some fancy or shred of reason that means nothing to them or anybody else. They are no different from cardboard cutouts. Unfortunately the world is shaped by these people and their manipulators. Think and understand.

Also, thanks for all the entries in this review. You have increased my knowledge base and forced me to think.

- Kenny

- Jul-11-2006, 08:03

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To "Smarter guy"

You said:

"In short, you are a arrogant, judgemental, bigoted, narrow-minded and hateful person who despises the "comman" men like Babitt because they are everything you can't be: useful, simple, free of extranous so called "knowledge" and longing to find phony "meanigs", contented with the basics, connected with God, and selfless."

It seems that your own arrogant, judgmental, bigoted, narrow-minded, hateful thoughts made you forget how to spell, perhaps while practicing your "commie pinko" speech in the mirror this morning?

Hypocrisy is so amusing.

- wandering beefalo

- May-17-2006, 17:04

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"what most of u are missing is that george babbitt is what most people in the working world are: unsatisfaction with life hidden by the guises of being a family man, being in the 'in' crowd, or 'that guy with the nice car'. he's not a hero. he's a human."

Actually, most people in the working world are NOT dissastified with life as poll after poll proves. But I guess they're lying since hating your family, driving a beat down old car and being an anti-social loner like you wish to be is SO much better. The fact is, we don't live on a spiritual plane, we live on a material one. So all real satisfication in life has roots in material plasures and ideas. There are many spiritual selfess people who have lived miserable lives and materalistic hedonists who have died happy. That's just the way it works. And if you and whiny lefty snobs like Sinclair Lewis don't like it, too bleeping bad.

"Bottom line: conformity is not heroic."

Sure it is. After all, all Babitt was doing was becoming unique in being a total conformist and refusing to confirm to the notion that you shouldn't conform totally.

> What is heroic is thriving to be an individual, as Socrates was"

Yeah, right. He just wanted all his students to think and learn the same exact way.

> as Kierkegaard was"

His philosophy of course, being based on ideas that existed before.

"as the Buddha was."

Mr. "Supress all indidivudal desires?" Yup, like that wouldn't make us all the same.

You could have went on with, "as Hitler was, as Jack the Ripper was...etc...". It's good that you quit when you did.

"Our man Babbitt had no depth of selfhood."

Very heroic. Selfhood leads to selfishness and people thinking they are better than everyone else. Human worth dosen't exist in a vacumn, it only exists in relation to social order.

"He was not interested in knowledge or the meaning of things."

So, if you're not an ivory tower know it all "intellectual" who thinks about living life than actually living it, and condemms anyone who think different than them, becuase of course intellectuals are smarter than us plebs and should dictate what will make us happy and how we should live our life, you just ain't admirable.

"His values were false ones: money and showing off."

Unless you're God, who are you to judge what values are "false." Money is the measure of a persons usefullness and ability, not the only one maybe, but a very good one. Showing off just means being proud of who you are and not "conforming" to the idea we should all be reserved and talk in a whisper. Is a bird showing off when it flies?

"He loved his family, but all questionable people have 'loyalty' of some kind (Hitler for Germany, Al Capone for his family)"

Yup, loving your family that you are responsible for is 100% akin to loving the idea that your country should have no Jews, and that you should be loyal to your buddies that commit crimes for you. The fact that they all come from totally different places seems to have missed you.

Basically, my problem with people like you and Lewis "I'm better than you" Sinclair is that you think you know whats best for everyone, if they are satisfied with their lives it must be a lie or self deception because of course the way you live is the only way to live, you have an inflated sense of so-called "individually" (a concept like non-""CONFORMITY"" and conformity that dosen't actually exist") and that anyone who disagress with you is obviosuly stupid and should be barred from "academia".

In fact, you are the biggest spokesman for the pinko orthodoxy I have ever seen.

In short, you are a arrogant, judgemental, bigoted, narrow-minded and hateful person who despises the "comman" men like Babitt because they are everything you can't be: useful, simple, free of extranous so called "knowledge" and longing to find phony "meanigs", contented with the basics, connected with God, and selfless.

So to you and "anti-freedom Socalism" Sincalir, I say go to Hell.

- smarter guy

- Sep-23-2005, 18:49

*******************************************************

what most of u are missing is that george babbitt is what most people in the working world are: unsatisfaction with life hidden by the guises of being a family man, being in the 'in' crowd, or 'that guy with the nice car'. he's not a hero. he's a human.

- some dude

- May-08-2005, 11:17

*******************************************************

" Bottom line: conformity is not heroic. What is heroic is thriving to be an individual, as Socrates was, as Kierkegaard was, as the Buddha was. Our man Babbitt had no depth of selfhood. He was not interested in knowledge or the meaning of things. His values were false ones: money and showing off. He loved his family, but all questionable people have 'loyalty' of some kind (Hitler for Germany, Al Capone for his family).

- Dennis the Menace

- Aug-09-2004, 23:28"

- oj

- Aug-10-2004, 12:44

*******************************************************

1. Orrin writes:

"Wait. I get it. You were joking. Your rigid conformity to the conventional wisdom of academia is supposed to be Babbittian,. right?"

Not at all. My point was that the character Babbitt, as understood by students and professors, is not admirable. This is the overwhelming consensus because there is textual support behind it. Your own take on Babbitt, on the other hand, would be laughed out of court.

2. Orrin writes:

"Academia? Academia hates normal Judeo-Christian morality--of course they hate a character who conforms to it. That's the point of the review."

Babbitt's behaviour is not even remotely 'Judeo-Christian.' It's not remotely anything, except conforming for the sake of conforming. That's the point.

3. Orrin writes:

"And so, entirely predictably, you go from saying you don't detest Babbitt to the reductio ad hitlerum. Babbitt sins, as we all do, but redeems himself. That's the most a man can do with his life."

I said nothing of the kind. What I said was that Babbitt's degree of conformity is "alarmingly high" and therefore he most certainly does not sin "as we all do." What "we all do" is conform sometimes for silly reasons, here and there, whereas Babbitt does it all the time. The reason he is so familiar to us is because we have all dealt with our share of Babbitts in the real world. I also said that he was weak-minded and cowardly rather than evil and destestable. I always thought of him as a child who needed instruction. He is misguided. Perhaps - and I may be wrong - his dream about the fairie child is an attempt by his unconscious to guide him in the right direction? That's just shaky speculation, I freely admit.

- Dennis the Menace

- Aug-10-2004, 12:15

*******************************************************

Wait. I get it. You were joking. Your rigid conformity to the conventional wisdom of academia is supposed to be Babbittian,. right?

- oj

- Aug-09-2004, 23:44

*******************************************************

Academia? Academia hates normal Judeo-Christian morality--of course they hate a character who conforms to it. That's the point of the review.

- oj

- Aug-09-2004, 23:43

*******************************************************

And so, entirely predictably, you go from saying you don't detest Babbitt to the reductio ad hitlerum. Babbitt sins, as we all do, but redeems himself. That's the most a man can do with his life.

- oj

- Aug-09-2004, 23:37

*******************************************************

If you want to praise over-bearing, loudmouth idiots like Babbit, very well. But you haven't convinced me or more importantly academia. The overwhelming consensus is that George F. Babbit is not at all respectable and is actually a kind of cancer for the modern world. Lewis himself felt this way. Babbitt is not a hero and this is self-evident. Why you are unable to see this I am not sure. The onus is on you to back up your strange claim and I don't think you have. You must be playing devil's advocate. Good luck with that. ciao

- Dennis

- Aug-09-2004, 23:37

*******************************************************

From Orrin:

"No decent person lives their life the way they "desire" to--morality is the repudiation of desire. That's the condition of Fallen Man. Babbitt is heroic precisely to the degree he conforms."

Post-graduates "desire" to become doctors. Very many women "desire" to have children. Ray Charles hated his life in the 'deep south' and with what money he had got on a bus 'as far from Florida as possible.' He "desired" a better life. The alternative is to live in fear and 'go with the flow' rather than become fueled by a sense of purpose. That was Babbitt's point. All his life he never did what he really "wanted" to do. When I use the word "desire" in my above examples I mean a future-oriented sense of purpose and personal passion. Babbitt neglected these things, as he himself points out.

This is not the 'desire' you speak of. The 'desire' you refer to, which is the "repudiation of morality" (as you put it), is carnal desire, arrogance, and fast gratification. Decent people try to resist these things. Babbitt did not. What he did do, amongst other things, was cheat on his wife and bully a lot of people. This is not admirable behaviour. Remember what Viktor E. Frankl said:

"Ever more patients complain of a feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness, which seems to me to derive from two facts. Unlike an animal, man is not told by instincts what he MUST do. And unlike man in former times, he is no longer told by traditions what he SHOULD do. Often he does not even know what he basically wishes to do. Instead, either he wishes to do what other people do (conformism), or he does what other people wish him to do (totalitarianism)." (Frankl, "The Will to Meaning")

This directly applies to Babbit. He conforms because "he does not even know what he basically wishes to do." Babbit doesn't know himself. He lacks self-knowledge and self-understanding. Only by the end of the novel does he acquire self-realization, in saying he lived his life shabbily.

Bottom line: conformity is not heroic. What is heroic is thriving to be an individual, as Socrates was, as Kierkegaard was, as the Buddha was. Our man Babbitt had no depth of selfhood. He was not interested in knowledge or the meaning of things. His values were false ones: money and showing off. He loved his family, but all questionable people have 'loyalty' of some kind (Hitler for Germany, Al Capone for his family).

- Dennis the Menace

- Aug-09-2004, 23:28

*******************************************************

No decent person lives their life the way they "desire" to--morality is the repudiation of desire. That's the condition of Fallen Man. Babbitt is heroic precisely to the degree he conforms.

- oj

- Aug-09-2004, 12:10

*******************************************************

To my mind, Babbitt is heroic only when he confronts the lies of his life, telling his son he has lived in fear rather than purposive motivation. By his own admission, he never did what he "wanted" to do. Another term for Hero is Role-Model: someone we look up to and ultimately try to be like. I don't want to 'be like' a man who never did what he wanted to. Even so, I try to have empathy for Babbitt. He is not, in my opinion, a bad person or worthy of hatred. I just think that he is weak-minded and cowardly.

To be fair, though, Babbitt does make the attempt to change:

"George Babbitt, a prosperous and self-satisfied house-agent in the mid-western town of Zenith, who comes to doubt the conventions of middle-class society, but who eventually is re-absorbed after a period of defiance and ostracism."

(The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 5th Edition, edited by Margarett Drabble, p. 568, 1985)

Babbitt is competently described by E.L Doctorow, in his Afterword to "Arrowsmith" :

"George F. Babbitt, the Rotarianized, out-f-shape realtor, philanderer, and community booster, he proposed a successor to that scamp Tom Sawyer as the carrier of our national soul; Babbitt, philosopher of the commonplace, vacously professing the business faith that has sucked his soul dry."

Doctorow goes on to say that "Martin Arrowsmith's struggle to be a scientist is a matter of freeing himself from a universe of Babbitts."

Ultimately, we can agree to disagree. goodbye

Best, Dennis

- Dennis

- Aug-09-2004, 12:01

*******************************************************

So Babbitt is indeed heroic in that he conforms to societal norms and takes care of his dependents even though he'd rather be footloose and fancy free.

- oj

- Aug-08-2004, 20:02

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Also, I apologize for any rudeness on my part.

- Dennis

- Aug-08-2004, 18:18

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Remember what my reply was. I said that Babbitt, from my point of view, is not detestable, because his failings are a common feature of the human condition, which is why his character feels so real to the reader. I also said that he is not substantially different from society: he is a not a man like Hitler who stands out and can impact history. He is not another serial rapist we read about in the paper. Those kinds of men are more recognizably flawed and quickly hated. What bothers me about Babbitt - and apparently what bothers most everyone but yourself - is his conforming for the sake of conforming and his basing his actions on childish insecurity.

Yes, I conform as others do, usually because it has practical value: wearing regular clothing rather than dressing up as Shakespeare might have is preferable in terms of appearing sane. A lot of the time conformity makes sense and is enjoyable. But Babbitt's conformity is of a different kind and degree: he has little in the way of authenticity or inwardness. And sure enough we are all guilty of that kind of conformity, myself as well, but Babbitt's whole life is based around that.

So to answer your question (which was Ad Hominem more than anything else), I neither hate myself nor believe myself to be a "lonely hero" who doesn't conform. What you are saying is this: if I'm not a lonely hero who resists conformity, then I'm a conformist and must hate myself. How so? I didn't hate Babbitt, the biggest conformist of them all, so why would I hate myself? Furthermore, my original reply said that ALL people conform, so therefore I wouldn't think in terms of Conformist vs. Anticonformist. It's an interesting question because how are we to consider 'anti-conformists' like the Sex Pistols and the so on. Aren't they the biggest conformists of all?

- Dennis

- Aug-08-2004, 18:15

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Dennis:

So do your hate yourself or think you're the lonely hero who doesn't conform?

- oj

- Aug-08-2004, 15:10

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Orrin writes:

"Odd, isn't it, that George F. Babbitt should be one of the most reviled characters in American literature? What, after all, is his great crime ? It's not that he's a conformist; we're all conformists of one kind or another; such is the nature of social creatures. No, the problem with George Babbitt, that which has so incensed intellectuals for some eighty-odd years is the set of ideas that he conforms to : Middle American ideals--hard work, thrift, salesmanship, conservatism, Christianity, family values, monogamy, the whole panoply of traditional morays of which the Left is so contemptuous."

The internet is chock full of websites created by pseudo-intellectuals who have no wherewithall for academia. These people are not authors or teachers. Many of them are not even graduates. I do not know Orrin's academic achievements, or failings, but the above criticism of "Babbitt" has almost no textual support, and like most bad arguments, it hides on the Internet.

He asks what Babbitt's great crime is. It is conformity. Orrin objects that all men are conformists in some measure, and therefore our difficulty with Babbitt can't be his conformity. But that is the point: conformity occurs in degrees, and Babbitt's level of conformity is alarmingly high. Orrin goes on to say that Babbitt conforms to traditional values like "hard work" and "salesmenship" and "Christianity". Leftists dislike this, he says. This, too, is off the mark. Readers are not objecting to hard work or Christianity. Readers are objecting to a man who does anything to keep up appearances, as for example his collection of books which were meant for show, only. Readers are objecting to his lack of self-control, his childish behaviour, his cowardness in social life, his dishonesty in business. Beyond this: we object to his living in fear. At the end of the book Babbitt seems to have matured and advises his son not to live his life in fear as he did. He tells his son in no uncertain terms: my whole life I've never done anything I've wanted. This, then, is our problem with Babbitt. I do not think the man is detestable or substantially different than a lot of people. On the contrary, too many people are like him, which is why he is so familiar and convincing as a character. Babbitt is a weak man who achieves our admiration only at the end of the novel, when he confesses the truth about himself, at which point he can possibly evolve into a better person. Up until that point, he is not at all admirable. To say otherwise, as Orrin has, is playing the game of devil's advocate and nothing more.

- Dennis

- Aug-08-2004, 15:01

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That was our first choice, but the URL was already registered

- The Brothers

- Nov-24-2003, 09:08

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A name change is in order here; the following is a more appropriate name for whatever it is that you do: Right Wing Revisionist Book Reviewing Idiot.

- Joseph

- Nov-24-2003, 02:56

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im so confused

- Megan

- Sep-30-2003, 22:03

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if a native american kid in the 1500's hated fishing and hunting, he was shit out of luck. Likewise, if a Hindu Indian kid in the 1800's hated the caste to which he was assigned, he was in a similar predicament. this book is a love letter to american middle-class society. babbit has the leisure time to sit around and decide whether his life is fulfilling. he lives in a society where he can up and change his life 180 degrees at the drop of a hat. this shows how efficient and free his society actually is.

- u

- Jul-29-2003, 15:38

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Liked the review--you spelled "mores" wrong, though. The way you have it spelled-- "morays"-- you're referring to a dangerous, tropical eel. :-)

- Jessica

- Jul-16-2003, 23:05

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