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  • Babbitt: chapter 11

    Babbitt, who loves anything large and new, is anxious to see the large, new Pennsylvania Hotel when he and Paul arrive in New York. Paul wants to see an ocean liner. You\'ll remember that it was Paul\'s youthful ambition to go to Europe and study the violin. Now as Babbitt and he make their way to the docks, he insists he will cross the Atlantic some day. (Babbitt would like to go, too. But while Paul thinks of Europe as a place of culture, Bab ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 12

    Lewis immediately throws cold water on any hope that Babbitt has permanently changed for the better. Babbitt vows again to quit smoking, and again is unable to quit. He takes up a new hobby, going to baseball games, but after one week abandons it. It\'s back to business as usual--meaning, in Zenith, hustling, looking busy even when you\'re not. Lewis the sociologist now presents some of the recreations popular among the American middleclass ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 13

    Babbitt enjoys a moment of glory. He is asked to address S.A.R.E.B., the State Association of Real Estate Boards. The theme of Babbitt\'s talk: real estate men are as worthy of respect as are doctors and professors. Babbitt\'s speech will be only ten minutes long, but he goes through agony writing it. If you\'ve ever delayed starting an assignment for school, you\'ll probably appreciate Babbitt\'s meaningless outlines, his doodles, his waste ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 14

    Now Lewis presents to us Zenith politics, which are a miniature version of that era\'s national politics. Nationally, Warren Harding is running for (and will win) the U.S. presidency. Today, Harding is widely considered one of the weakest presidents ever to have held office--an opinion Lewis shared at the time. Yet, for much of his presidency, the handsome Harding was very popular. If the entire country can be so easily fooled, will Zenith be a ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 15

    After his success as a speaker, Babbitt had hoped to be invited to join the Union and the Tonawanda country clubs, but no invitations arrived. Now he pins his hopes for social advancement on his upcoming college reunion. The reunion is held at the Union Club, which for all its snob appeal is housed in an old and ugly building. Anxious to engage in some social climbing, Babbitt drags along his friend Paul Riesling, as he moves through the cro ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 16

    To ignore his disappointment at the McKelveys\' rejection, Babbitt takes refuge in his club meetings. Clubs are important in Zenith, Lewis explains. They promote business contacts. They give people a sense of self-importance. Still, Babbitt remains irritable, discontented. Even the pleasant evenings at Paul Riesling\'s house remind him of failed dreams: when Paul plays his violin, he\'s a lost and lonely man. Another important part of lif ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 17

    The Eathornes are the oldest and wealthiest family in Zenith, their grim, red-brick house symbolizing the power they hold. As much as he dislikes the present Zenith, Lewis is too realistic to romanticize its past. The long-established Eathorne is more polite than the backslapping salesmen at the Athletic Club, but he isn\'t any less greedy. Babbitt finds enough courage to offer his suggestions for improving Sunday School attendance--suggesti ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 18

    Babbitt tends to be oblivious to his children until they do something out of the ordinary. Now events force him to pay attention to his son and daughter. Verona Babbitt is spending a lot of time with reporter Kenneth Escott, and Babbitt hopes a romance is developing. Ted Babbitt disturbs his father more. Like a lot of fathers, Babbitt has hopes for Ted that his son isn\'t particularly interested in fulfilling. He wants Ted to have the law ca ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 19

    Earlier in the book we\'ve seen hints of a shady business deal involving Babbitt\'s realty company. Now we learn about it in detail. For aiding Lucas Prout\'s campaign for mayor, Babbitt was illegally rewarded with advance information about the Street Traction Company\'s plans to expand trolley lines and build a repair shop. In chapter 17 we saw him obtaining a secret loan from William Eathorne so he could quietly purchase the land the traction ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 20

    Babbitt apprehensively takes a taxi to Paul\'s hotel, where he bullies a clerk into letting him into Paul\'s room. He half fears that Paul has committed suicide and is greatly relieved when he opens the bathroom door and discovers no body. Paul arrives three hours late, furious that Babbitt has interfered with his private life. Babbitt attacks his friend for having an affair--it will threaten Paul\'s position in Zenith, Babbitt says self-rig ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 21

    Chapter 21 opens with an event that perfectly exemplifies all the noisy, inane activity that Babbitt and Zenith thrive on: the Boosters\' Club annual election of officers. Lewis takes great pleasure in showing us this comic side of Zenith life. His language mocks the seriousness with which these foolish businessmen take themselves. Through the Boosters\' Club, \"you... realized the metaphysical oneness of all occupations,\" from plumbing to che ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 22

    Babbitt drives to City Prison, but the attendant tells him Paul is refusing visitors. He rushes to City Hall, and by reminding Mayor Prout of his campaign work, obtains an order forcing Paul to see him. Riesling had first refused the visit fearing that Babbitt would be \"moral\" and disapproving. But when Babbitt says instead that Zilla got what was coming to her, Paul defends his wife. Now--too late--Paul sees that Zilla didn\'t have an eas ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 23

    Babbitt keeps busy to avoid thinking about Paul, but he feels lonely and at loose ends. His wife and daughter Tinka leave on vacation. That night, Babbitt restlessly goes into Verona\'s room looking for something to read. Verona likes to think of herself as an intellectual, and the books she\'s collected are to Babbitt\'s mind difficult, disturbing, improper. Here Lewis is having some fun, for among the books Babbitt skims through disapprovingl ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 24

    Babbitt visits Paul Riesling in prison. It\'s a place of death, Lewis says, and Paul himself is in effect dead--pale, meek, defeated. Babbitt, too, is changed. He no longer cares what others think of him, no longer has pride in his worldly success. He\'s ready to begin his rebellion for real. One opportunity arises when a Mrs. Daniel Judique appears in Babbitt\'s office. Slender, elegantly dressed, she impresses Babbitt so much he offers to ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 25

    The next morning, Babbitt resolves that rebellion has done him no good. But he can\'t make himself return to his old respectable ways either. Can he find a woman who will make his life better? That woman isn\'t Mrs. Babbitt, he realizes when she returns from her vacation. In past years he had missed her when she was gone; now he feels nothing, though he does his best to fake pleasure at her return. The memory of his trip to Maine with Pau ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 26

    On the train, Babbitt searches for familiar faces, but he sees only Seneca Doane, the radical lawyer defeated by Lucas Prout. Doane represents everything Babbitt and his conservative business friends oppose. In fact, though, he could easily have been one of them, for he was in Babbitt\'s class in college and started a promisingly lucrative career as a corporate lawyer. Somehow he gave up that career and took what Babbitt considers an almost tra ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 27

    Labor strife comes to Zenith, as telephone workers go out on strike. Violence is threatened; the national guard is called out. Businessmen who in private life are plump Athletic Club jokesters waddle around with guns. Hysteria mounts--and Babbitt chooses this time to be publicly liberal, to make his rebellion an open one. NOTE: LABOR STRIFE IN 1920S AMERICA Once again Babbitt mirrors the America of the early 1920s. It was an era of great la ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 28

    From political rebellion Babbitt switches to romantic rebellion. Mrs. Tanis Judique calls, and Babbitt agrees to inspect her leaking roof. The strike has been crushed, and, on the surface, Babbitt\'s life is back to normal (though Vergil Gunch seems less friendly than before). But Babbitt feels lonely. After lingering in the office to convince himself he\'s only interested in business, he drives to Mrs. Judique\'s apartment, happy to be seeing ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 29

    Babbitt\'s rebellion reaches its peak. Fortified by his affair with Tanis Judique, he no longer cares what his old friends think of him. At the Athletic Club he openly praises Seneca Doane and Lord Wycombe (though we still may doubt he knows who Lord Wycombe really is), and not even Vergil Gunch\'s rough words make him back down. At last, Babbitt thinks, he\'s found the woman who will make him happy. Compared to Mrs. Babbitt, Tanis is young, ...

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  • Babbitt: chapter 30

    The previous summer, Mrs. Babbitt had been anxious to return to Zenith. Now she suspects that something is wrong between her and her husband, and she sends wistful letters hinting that she\'d like Babbitt to tell her he misses her. Impulsively, he writes to say that he does. He tries his best to give her an eager welcome home, and her gift of a cigar case touches him; he sees again the lonely young girl he married. But he still hopes to maintai ...

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