The Power Of Conformity In The Novel — страница 2

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modernization, young women instead of his wife, adventure instead of standardization, and he secretly sympathizes with certain groups he is supposed to despise because of their non-conformist nature. Babbitt can dimly see the flaws in his life but feels powerless to change his fate and become a better man. Babbitt feels the pressure of conformist society and begins to witness the control it has over his life. The true awakening of Babbitt to the nature of conformist society springs from his friendship with Paul Riesling. Paul is Babbitt’s only true friend and is the extreme example of the stifling conformity in Zenith. Zenith’s harsh conformity demands that people give up their dreams and goals causing them to become unhappy later in life. Paul is one of the only characters

who can see Zenith for what it really is. Paul tells Babbitt that Zenith is a place of cutthroat competition and conformity. He says that the conformity in Zenith has ruined his dreams of becoming a fiddler, and instead forced him to become a tar roofing salesman. He makes a very important observation about the citizens of Zenith. “one third of ‘em are sure enough satisfied with their wifes and kids and their friends and their offices; and one third feel kind of restless but won’t admit it; and one third are miserable and know it.”(Babbitt pg.64-65). This statement is the most accurate description of Zenith in the novel. This portraits a place in which two thirds of it’s inhabitants are unhappy with their lives due to the power that conformity has on their lives

stifling their dreams. Paul realizes that these people are helpless to fight their unhappiness because conformity has trapped them into a life which does not satisfy them. Babbitt fits into the second class, those who are restless but won’t admit it. Throughout the novel, however we will see Babbitt move into the third class of openly miserable people. Riesling already fits into that class. In an attempt to lighten Paul’s spirits Babbitt suggests a trip to the woods of Maine where him and Paul will fish and hunt. Babbitt hopes that time away from Zilla will help Paul and that maybe the trip could help to cure the restlessness he has been feeling. This trip is when babbitt begins to realize that he is discontent with his life and must try to improve it.. The realization that

he does not want to end up as unhappy as Paul prompts Babbitt to completely rebel against the conformist society in which he lives, and fight for the life he wants. When eventually Paul shoots his wife out of discontent Babbitt realizes he must rebel against society and prevent himself from suffering the same fate as Paul. After the unfortunate incident between Paul and his wife Babbitt realizes that he must make an attempt to escape from conformist society, and attempt to improve his life. Babbitt can see that his life would be better without conformity. “This individual trapped in an environment, catching glimmerings of something more desirable beyond it, struggling to grasp them”(Schorer). Unfortunately the means that Babbitt chooses to rebel against society are poorly

chosen. Babbitt’s first attempt at rebellion is that he changes his political outlook and joins the political crusade of Seneca Doane. Next Babbitt supports workers in a strike. When this attempt fails Babbitt looks towards other women as a source of comfort and rebellion. Babbitt has always dreamed of romance and therefore starts an affair with Tanis Judique a member of a wild set called “the bunch”. “His greatest adventure is his affair with Tanis Judique- and here he exercises his fancy, transforming her and her friends into persons the are not.”(Light). Babbitt tries to convince himself that he is happier living a life of non-conformity. Babbitt’s attempts of rebellion are poorly chosen. Babbitt’s approach to rebellion is to radical, and causes him to be

ridiculed, and cast out by the rest of conformist society. Babbitt loses many friends because of his non-conformist actions, and he begins to see the true power of conformity. Babbitt’s friends and family turn away from him. Society rejects him because his new ideas do not fit their pre-conceived standards. Babbitt begins to feel trapped between his own ideals and goals and the pressure he constantly receives from family and friends to rejoin conformist society. Late one night Babbitt’s wife complains of pains in her side. Mrs. Babbitt is diagnosed with appendicitis. This tragic event is all that is needed to crumble the now weakened resistance that Babbitt has held against conformist society. Babbitt worried about his wife swears loyalty to conformity and all the values he