One of the most popular novels written by Sinclair Lewis in 1922. The book is a portrayal of George F. Babbitt, the epitome of conformity. Babbitt lives in a house not unlike every other house in the suburb of Floral Heights, his opinions are given to him by his local paper, he surrounds himself with everything corporate America says he should have and, of course, is completely empty inside. There are many movies that uncover the peaceful, moral outward appearences of American Surburbia to show the corruption and evil underneath (American Beauty, The Virgin Suicides, Blue Velvet, etc.) This book basically does the same thing accept it is set in the 1920s. In fact, it's a little disturbing how similar middle-class life is now compared to then.

Overall, this was a very interesting book to read. Sinclair Lewis' extremely detailed description of Babbitt's life in the first part of the novel is very educational for anyone who didn't live through the 20s. The book seems to more anthropological than literary though. There really isn't much of a plot, and the book ends aprubtly. At the end you feel the same way about Babbitt and his lifestyle. Several times Lewis really hits you over the head with irony, as well.

I found the character of George Babbitt to be somewhat disturbing. At first, you feel better than Babbitt and all the other people in the novel living their fake, shallow lives. It made me think about high school and how much I hated how everyone had to wear brand name clothes. After awhile though you start to notice how to some degree you do the same things as Babbitt. The book mentions how Babbitt was idealistic and wanted to do something important with his life in college, but somehow ended up doing nothing. It makes you start to wonder if you're not heading down that same path yourself.

The incisiveness of Sinclair Lewis' novel led Babbitt to be adopted as a generic term, as well as creation of the noun Babbittry.

It describes a person or practice that exemplifies middle class complacency: small-mindedness, conformity, snobbishness and materialism. A Babbitt believes in success above everything else, and measures the personal worth of others, as well as his own, by how much the person gets ahead. For a current example see About Schmidt.

Bab"bitt (?), v. t.

To line with Babbitt metal.

 

© Webster 1913.

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