Babbit by Sinclair Lewis Essays

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Babbitt: Conformity

In the Sinclair Lewis novel Babbitt, the character of Babbitt is completely controlled by the power of conformity. Conformity is so powerful that even after babbitt realizes the stifling nature of the society in which he lives he is powerless to change his fate as a member of conformist society.
     George F. Babbitt is a man who is completely controlled by the conformist society in which he lives. Pressure to conform lies in all aspects of Babbitt's life. Relationships, family, social life, and business are all based on his ability to conform to Zenith's preset standards of thought and action. All of Babbitt's thoughts are controlled by society. Thoughts that are not those of society are
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Babbitt does these things in hope of improving his social status. This conformist man is exactly who Sinclair
Lewis wanted to show the reader, a man who's life is based on the ideals and standards of others. "Villages-overgrown towns-three -quarters of a million people still dressing, eating, building houses, attending church, to make an impression on their neighbors." (Lewis). This is what Lewis thought of American society and he used Babbitt to voice his opinions to his readers. In fact that passage was intended to be included in the original introduction of Babbitt, which was never published.
     Babbitt does well in conformist society because in the beginning of the novel he accepts all the standards, goals, ideals, likes, and dislikes of society. Babbitt's though mirrors all those around him and he is therefore accepted in society. At first Babbitt lives in the illusion of happiness. The happiness Babbitt experiences is not genuine because he has replaced his desires with those of society. Since Babbitt is controlled by society his goals are also controlled by it. The goals set by society are economic and material worth, social standing, and conservative thought.
Since Babbitt has achieved, at least in part, these goals he is in a sense fooled into believing he is truly happy. Babbitt's true desires however are not those of society he dreams of nature instead of modernization, young women instead of his
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