By Robert J. Milch, Cliffs Notes, Inc
Capturing arrows at American enterprise and the ethic of self-advancement, Lewis provides us Babbitt, a social-climbing, hopelessly middle-class oaf. through skewering the borgeousie, Babbitt provides us social feedback and a brand new kind of personality that reappears in American arts and letters.
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Extra info for Cliffs Notes on Lewis' Babbitt
Babbitt returns home for dinner. As usual, the family squabbles about a number of small things, including the need for a newer and more stylish car. Babbitt promises to get one next year, but this solution only partially satisfies Verona and Ted. After the meal, Verona leaves to meet some friends; the others settle on the porch. Ted does his homework, Myra sews, and Babbitt becomes deeply engrossed in his favorite light reading, the comic strips in the evening newspaper. After awhile, Ted begins to complain about the uselessness of the things which he is forced to learn in schoolplane geometry and the works of Shakespeare, Milton, and Cicero.
When he was about eleven, however, he began writing and never stopped. During the summers of his last years of high school, Lewis worked alternately on two newspapers and began to publish poetry. At Yale, Lewis continued to write, but other than some of the English faculty who encouraged him in his literary pursuits, he had few friends. After his freshman year, Lewis temporarily abandoned his studies and went to England on a cattle boat. It was an unhappy experience, but on Page 6 his return to Yale, Lewis again buried himself in writing and produced a substantial number of essays, poems, and short stories.
Babbitt regularly boasts of the efficient sewage pipes beneath the Glen Oriole housing development, just as he regularly Page 20 worries about his own bowels. Lewis notes that Glen Oriole's sewage pipes are not washed clean; they do not even function well; in short, they are very much like Babbitt's life. Both are full of stagnation. In the scene involving the small grocer, Mr. Purdy, Babbitt's "conventionally honest" ethics are in full display. Babbitt's buying of land and offering it to the grocer at many times its value, disguising his greed as a gesture of friendliness, is fiendish.