Babbitt Essay Research Paper BabbittIf one were

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Babbitt Essay, Research Paper BabbittIf one were to look at the words of any modern dictionary they would find amongst them the word Babbitt. If one were to glance, however at a dictionary from the early part of this century, the word Babbitt would not appear. The word Babbitt means “a self satisfied person who conforms readily to conventional middle class ideas and ideals, especially of business and material success” (Websters New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 106). The word Babbitt, and its subsequent meaning, comes from the 1922 novel by Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt. It is a novel which shows a cross section of American middle class life through the eyes of the ultimate conformist, George F. Babbitt. By turning Babbitt’s name into a noun “a name has been given to

that which people recognize as true to their experience of life, but which they hadn’t realized in any palpable way before” ( Love 12). Just analyzing Babbitt himself however, is not enough if one wishes to truly recognize the beauty of Lewis’s work. One must delve deeper, under the surface, beyond Babbitt’s personality, to uncover the methods, and the reasons behind Lewis’s “madness”. What must be explored in Lewis’s work is, why was Babbitt created the way he was, and why has he become such a paradigm of American middle class life? To truthfully, and accurately answer these questions one must know who George F. Babbitt was, who Sinclair Lewis was, the historical context of the 1920’s, and most importantly what Lewis wanted out of Babbitt. George F. Babbitt is

a man without an identity. His “individuality” has been imposed on him by a world of other things. “Just as he was an Elk, a Booster, and a member of the chamber of commerce, just as the priests of the Presbyterian Church determined his every religious belief and the Senators who controlled the Republican party decided in little smoky rooms in Washington what he should think about disarmament, tariff, and Germany, so did the large national advertisers fix the surface of his life, fix what he believed to be his individuality” ( 30 ). Babbitt is a man who does everything based on how it will look to others. He desperately wants his son, Theodore Roosevelt Babbitt, to attend a real university, even though he himself confesses to have learned nothing useful at college.

Babbitt wants his son to go to college for all the wrong reasons, he wants to be given the prestige of having a son in a fine State institution (Love 53). He will do anything for his son, as long as he is given proper credit (219). Babbitt lends much of his time and energy to the Sunday school at the Church. This, however does not come about because of Babbitt’s altruistic nature, rather he wants the “praise and good repute” that comes with being involved in the church (219). Babbitt’s chief characteristics are “shouting backslapping and self conscious masculinity” (Light 77). Babbitt feels that he must engage in such childish maneuvers so that everyone is assured of his “pep, punch, vision, red-blooded Americanism” (Schorer 327). Babbitt’s main goal is power,

anyway he can get to it. He does not want to be the average middle class man, he wants to be like the bank president (and his close friend) William Washington Eathorne. He wants to be “deliciously, rigorously, coldly powerful” (218). For Babbitt business represents the sole purpose of living. “At his middle class level business not only thrives but it is the chief cultural characteristic” (Schorer 327). Babbitt sees his life as the new wave of America. To Babbitt the middle class businessman is taking over the country. He sees himself as something of a romantic hero (Light 74). “The romantic hero was no longer the knight, the wandering poet, the cowpuncher, the aviator, nor the brave young district attorney, but rather the great sales manager” (143). Babbitt, however