Babbitt Essay Research Paper BabbittIf one were — страница 4

  • Просмотров 426
  • Скачиваний 9
  • Размер файла 25
    Кб

matter. Much of Twain’s most devastating satire was either suppressed by him or ignored by his readers. It is as a humorist that he is best remembered. Similarly great satirists like H.L. Mencken’s satire were deemed to erudite by society. Lewis on the other hand gave Americans vinegar and made them like it” (Love 14). The greatness of Lewis’s feat is admired by many as a breakthrough in American literature, as well as something of an enigma. ” Lewis is a paradox. He gets away with telling America their faults even though Americans are self conscious of all criticism. Everything is right because we did it. Lewis tears of the hoods of our Klu-Klux-Klan to show the cruel faces beneath the masks. Yet he is able to flourish” (Lovett 32). Lewis holds his audiences by the

importance of his message rather than humor. Lewis in fact writes his satire out of his disappointment in his beloved country. He is writing in denunciation of ugliness, in simple black and white (West 23). A direct result of Lewis’ disappointment with his country was his inability to commit himself or his characters to the new America. Lewis was influenced by the nine -teenth century’s progressive heritage of E. Bellamy in Looking Backwards. “Lewis and his characters project the hope that America could subsume the city and machine civilization into the traditional democratic framework, without sacrificing pastoral values” (Love 10-11). Sinclair Lewis was a man on a mission. Previous to Babbitt he had written satires on everything from the organization of God, or the

Church, to the medical field. By 1921. however Lewis was sensitive of criticism that he was repeating himself, so he launched himself on a brand new endeavor (Light 77). Lewis delved into himself to create a masterpiece for the ages. Lewis’s nature was to write satire on American values, and the accepted ideas of his era. Although there may be some over-lap to contemporary times, Lewis lived and was writing about the sensational decade of the twenties. The generation in which Lewis was writing, however, was not his. Lewis was somehow able to achieve fame in a generation which wanted to ignore him, as well as his contemporaries. This era, of drastic change, favored younger writers like Hemmingway, Fitzgerald and Don Passos (Love 9). Lewis survival, forgetting his success, is an

enigma in itself. Lewis was adamant that his novel be a microcosm of American middle class life. he therefore did extensive research for Babbitt. “From his notes he was able to put into the book a mass of accurate detail about clothes, houses, furnishings, cars, clubs, real estate enterprises, and conventions. Therefore we have great confidence in Babbitt typicality in respect to things and opinions: his toothpaste and bath towels, his gray suit, and his spectacles, the contents ofd his pockets, his booster club button; and his indecisive and inconclusive discussion with his wife Myra about the choice of suits, his concerns for his stomach, the opinions he gleans from his newspaper’s editorials, his scorn for socialist agitators, and his faith in the strength of the towers of

Zenith – all of these observations we are delighted to recognize as true” (Light 80). Through this extensive research Lewis found a shallow materialistic world in a state of hysteria, which feared the reds, and a workers revolution, as if it was the plague (Love 7). The fact that Babbitt begins in 1920 is of extreme significance. 1920 is a satiric prelude to a decade of dizzying and mindless economic expansion and obsession. “Babbitt is the epic of our boom years and it remains today as the major documentation in literature of American business culture” (Schorer 327). When Lewis delved into the society, of the ‘boom’ years, he uncovered terrible intolerance of anyone who looked, acted, or thought differently. The infamous case of the Italians, Sacco and Vanzetti is a

perfect example of this sheer intolerance. “They were killed for having unpopular opinions. It was a systematic exploitation of alien blood, their imperfect knowledge of English, their unpopular social views, and their opposition to the war, is what led to their murders” (Love 4). Furthermore the now infamous Klu – Klux – Klan was started at this time with their goal being “native, white, Protestant, supremacy” (Love 5). Along with the intolerance, of the twenties, Lewis also found a great deal of hypocrisy. Nothing embodies this better than peoples attitudes towards prohibition. Prohibition represented a hypocrisy and subterfuge which manifested the decade (Love 6). Babbitt himself applauds the amendment, but then goes out drinking as if he is above it. Lewis also