Babbitt Essay Research Paper BabbittIf one were — страница 2

  • Просмотров 430
  • Скачиваний 9
  • Размер файла 25
    Кб

is neither a hero, nor a romanticist. He lives in a closed world, like his own little hell (Schorer 333). His house is everything a house in the middle class Floral Heights should be. ” The bedroom a modest and pleasant color scheme, after one of the best standards designs of the decorator who did the interiors for most of the speculative builders’ houses in Zenith [Babbitt's beloved town]…there was a dressing table of solid silver and a standard bedside book with colored illustrations-what particular book it was cannot be ascertained, since no one had ever opened it. The Mattresses were triumphant modern mattresses which had cost a great deal of money. It was a masterpiece among bedrooms, right out of the Cheerful Modern Houses for Medium Incomes. Only it had nothing to do

with the Babbitt’s nor with any one else. If people had ever lived and loved here, read thrillers at midnight, and lain in beautiful indolence on a Sunday morning there were no signs of it. It had the air of being a very good room in a very good hotel. Every second house in Floral Heights had a bedroom precisely like this one” (16). Babbitt is a simple conformist. Platitudes necessarily come along with a conformist, and Babbitt’s choice of words is no exception. ” Clich s are the only words a Babbitt type dare to use to express their emotions. Their misunderstanding of emotion is what makes them comic, grotesque and dangerous” (Light 78). He can not even deal with his daughter’s wish to do social philanthropic work, without spitting out clich after clich from the

“wedges of socialism”, to “Now look you here!” (Light 17). Babbitt is always looking for the weaknesses of his friends (Love 20). This comes from his need to be the best of his bunch, before he moves on to a more sophisticated crowd. Babbitt actually evaluates people “by tabulating their possessions” (Light 76). When Babbitt is able to mix with the upper class it becomes his obsession, and as he retells the stories of his excursions his relationships with the rich become more profound. For example, when Sir Gerald Doake of Manchester was in Zenith he scarcely noticed Babbitt’s existence. On a lonely business trip to Chicago, however Doake opted to break the monotony, and he got drunk with Babbitt, one could call it a one night stand. To Babbitt, however a life long

friendship had begun. Babbitt pictured himself, by chance, bumping into the Mcelvey, his college pal who had moved up in the world. Babbitt fantasized of telling Mcelvey. ” I had a fair time in Chicago, ran around with Sir Gerald Doake a lot…Jerry’s an old friend of mine-the wife and I are thinking of running over to England to stay with Jerry in his castle, next year” (248). Babbitt lived for such encounters where he could show up his friends, especially prosperous ones like Mcelvey. “Babbitt was virtuous the way society said he should be” (Love 48). “He advocated, though he did not practice, the prohibition of alcohol; he praised, though he did not obey, the laws against motor speeding; he paid his debts; he contributed to the church the Red Cross and the YMCA; he

followed the custom of his clan and cheated only as it was sanctified by precedent” (41). Along these same lines Babbitt was not unreasonably honest. In one section he gives a rambling speech on the virtues of honesty, throwing out clich after clich . Yet in the next breath he swindles a poor shopkeeper out of thousands of dollars. His moral code is derived from The Puritan business ethic “which encourages pragmatic decisions which then fatigue the conscience” (Light 82). long wth the tensions Babbitt feels to make large sums of money, he also feels the tensions of social climbing. Babbitt along with his other metropolitan middle class friends would like to enter the social class of the rich (Light 82). Babbitt also feels marital tensions as he desires many other women, yet

he could never ” hazard respectability” by cheating on Myra. This prospective loss of respectability is the sole reason for his continued fidelity to his wife (Light 82). This is a perfect example of how Babbitt’s morals work. He does not decide for himself whether things are right, or wrong, rather he acts based on what society expects from him. Bbbitt speaks of red blooded family oriented America. A place where the “ideal citizen is busier than a bird dog at his profession…then he lights up a good cigar and shoots out home to be with the family… Then he goes happily to bed his conscience clear, having contributed his mite to the prosperity of the city and to his own bank account” (181-2). “Yet in reality Babbitt sleeps fitfully and dreams of escape and