Sinclair Lewis and Babbitt

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Sinclair Lewis and Babbitt The book under analysis herein is Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt. The copy I am using in this research is published by Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York, 1950. The original version was published in 1922, but there is no information in this book regarding what printing or edition it may be. This edition encompasses thirty four chapters which span 401 pages in length as they are printed here. One interesting note is that the novel is dedicated to Edith Wharton. The author of the work, Sinclair Lewis, was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, and holds the distinction of being the first American ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Lewis was born in the late 19th century and lived…show more content…
If we look at specific passages from the novel, it is easy to see the author's contention as described above. While he does temporarily decide to fight the limiting influences of a material society that ostracizes individuality opposed to its established norms, Babbitt does revert back to his unquestioning superficial self once he recognizes that having original thoughts and acting on them is isolating, unprofitable and even dangerous. Babbitt is supposed to represent the ordinary human being, the average businessman and upwardly mobile middle-class America. However, Babbitt seems more artifice than genuine human being. Like the ads that sell Americans products, Babbitt has forged an identity that was imposed on him by the dominant forces of democratic capitalism, "Just as he was an Elk, a Booster, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, just as the priests of the Presbyterian Church determined his every religious belief, and the senators who controlled the Republican Part decided in little smoky rooms in Washington what he should think about disarmament, tariffs, and Germany, so did the large national advertisers fix the surface of his life, fix what he believed to be his individuality. These standard advertised first the signs, then the substitutes, for joy and passion and wisdom" (Lewis 95). However, for all his satire of Babbitt, Lewis, in keeping with his own character, seems somewhat
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