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Sinclair Lewis Babbitt Essays

Key Elements Of Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt

Key Elements of Babbitt

Sinclair Lewis, the author of Babbitt, devised several key literary elements
to explain his full effect and purpose for writing his novel.  Babbitt is a
satirist look at not only one man, but an entire society as well.  He exposes
the hypocrisy and mechanization of American Society in the 1920's.  In the
novel Lewis focuses on his main character Babbitt, the protagonist throughout
much of the book, who is a businessman with lofty aims and a desire to climb
the ladder of the social class.    To fully achieve his opinions and beliefs,
Lewis used the literary effects of irony and theme. 
    The novel begins in the 1920, a decade that had started in economic boom
and avid consumerism, only to end in crash and depression.  This was a
parallel used by Lewis to illustrate the theme of the story.  Lewis was
trying to show that materialism and shallow attitudes of the middle class of
America in the 1920's.  Lewis blatantly   criticizes his own characters to
get his point across.  Here Lewis writes, "He hadn't any satisfaction in the
new water cooler!  And it was the very best of water coolers, up to date,
scientific, and right thinking.  It had cost of great deal of money (in
itself a virtue.)" Pg 31. This quote reflects Babbitt's excitement about
material items and how those items mirror his position in society.  Babbitt's
morals and values were full of holes, which is what Lewis wanted to point
out.  He had chosen to satirize Babbitt as living in a fairytale world,
oblivious to...

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Comparing Satire in Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis and The Simpsons

2275 words - 9 pages The Power of Satire in Babbitt and The Simpsons      Sinclair Lewis used his writing to promote the enrichment of American society by attacking the weaknesses he perceived in his era.  His most notable work, Babbitt, is a satire on the middle class lifestyle and attitude of the 1920s.  Lewis' satirical style and voice is comparable to the modern television series The Simpsons, written by Matt Groening.  Babbitt and The Simpsons...

Teen Conformity in Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt and in Society Today

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"Babbitt" By Sinclair Lewis

549 words - 2 pages Babbitt is set in the modern Midwestern city of Zenith. George F. Babbitt, a 46- year-old real estate broker, enjoys all the modern conveniences available to a prosperous middle-class businessman, yet he is dissatisfied with his life. When the novel opens, Babbitt has begun to regularly indulge in fantasies about a fairy girl who makes him feel like a gallant youth....

Key Elements of Best Value

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The Idealization of Science in Sinclair Lewis' Arrowsmith

2550 words - 10 pages The Idealization of Science in Sinclair Lewis' Arrowsmith Sinclair Lewis's 1924 novel Arrowsmith follows a pair of bacteriologists, Martin Arrowsmith and his mentor Max Gottlieb, as they travel through various professions in science and medicine in the early decades of the twentieth century. Through the brilliant researcher Gottlieb and his protégé, Lewis explores the status and role of scientific work at universities, in industry, and at a...

Key Elements Of A Successful Manager

1808 words - 7 pages Being a manager takes a great deal of hard work, dedication, and persistence. In order to achieve the goal of becoming a CEO, necessary skills of a manager must be developed and then achieve the skills and confidence to succeed. Since managers are leaders, leadership skills and cross-functional leadership skills must be developed. Many corporations emphasize the importance of leadership potential and initiative, as well as problem solving and...

Essay on "An Open Swimmer" by Tim Winton - How have key elements of the Western Australian environment address key themes and issues in society?

2018 words - 8 pages Life is a journey, in which one's character is shaped by the experiences they encompass, and their life choices are affected according to the nature of these experiences. The environment a person has been exposed to and can relate with, also influences one's disposition and determines essential qualities a person may bear. Messages of a text are often unclear at first glance, yet through the incorporation of key elements of the Western...

Identify the key elements which account for the success or failure of social movements. Discuss with reference to examples.

1757 words - 7 pages "The overthrow of an existing government, ... the installation of traffic-calming measures in a suburban street" (Abercrombie, 2000: 324), the nuclear disarmament movement, the stop the war coalition, all are examples of social movements. A social movement, as defined by Tarrow (1994: 4), is 'collective challenges by people with common purposes and solidarity in sustained interaction with elites, opponents and authorities'. This shows that...

Teaching Profession: Key Elements of Professionalism and Ethics

1205 words - 5 pages It is expected that the profession of teaching embraces many qualities of any other professional practice. Teachers must possess a combination of many qualities beginning with a strong academic background and wide-ranging knowledge. The National Framework for Professional Standards for Teaching (2003) it is the knowledge of students, curriculum, subject matter, pedagogy, education – related legislation and the specifically teaching context that...

Alchemist: Santiago and the Key Elements of the Story

1046 words - 4 pages The Three Spanish Coins: As mentioned in the scrapbook they represent to Santiago more than material wealth, they convey to him that though his parents were against his decision of leaving priesthood for the act of mere traveling, his father somewhat understood his dreams. Had it not been for the three spanish coins he may have never possibly began his adventures as a shepard and may have never had the idea of pursuing his legend. But those are...

Mediocrity In America

1156 words - 5 pages Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt is a satirical depiction of the mediocrity of business America. Lewis's anger with the mass conformity of the 1920s businessman is portrayed through his middle-class protagonist George F. Babbitt - the embodiment of the materialism, hypocrisy and ignorance by which Lewis is...

Zenith, “the Zip City—Zeal, Zest, and Zowie,” is Sinclair Lewis’s satirical composite picture of the typical progressive American “business city” of the 1920’s, and middle-aged, middle-class midwesterner George F. Babbitt is its average prosperous citizen. Everything about Zenith is modern. A few old buildings, ramshackle witnesses of the city’s nineteenth century origins, are embarrassing, discordant notes amid the harmony of newness produced by shining skyscrapers, factories, and railroads. One by one, the old buildings are surrounded and bulldozed. The thrust of all energies in the city is toward growth: One of Zenith’s most booming businesses is real estate; one of its favorite occupations is the religious tallying and charting of population increase.

As Lewis presents his characters, however, the reader discovers that the prosperity and growth of Zenith are inversely proportional to the intellectual bankruptcy and spiritual stagnation of its inhabitants. They subscribe to the values of Zenith’s culture, which are all based on the “Dollar Ethic”; Lewis’s characters think in terms of production and consumption, judge people on the grounds of their purchasing power, and seek happiness in the earning and spending of money. This creed of prosperity permeates every aspect of society. It is evident not only in political and economic beliefs (discussion between Babbitt and his friends about government affairs is limited to the monotonous refrain, “What this country needs is a good, sound business administration”) but also in moral and religious attitudes. Thus, Dr. Drew attracts followers to his “Salvation and Five Percent” church with a combined cross-and-dollar-sign approach. Even more sinister is the facility with which the upright Babbitt carries through crooked deals in his real estate business. In one maneuver, he plots with a speculator to force a struggling grocer to buy the store building (which he has been renting for years) at a scalper’s price. The money ethic is so elemental to Babbitt’s conscience that he honestly feels nothing but delight and pride when the deal is completed; his only regret is that the speculator carries off nine thousand dollars while Babbitt receives a mere four hundred and fifty dollar commission. At the same time, Babbitt—with no inkling of his hypocrisy—discourses on his virtue to his friend Paul Riesling, touting his own integrity while denigrating the morality of his competitors.

The value placed on money also determines Zenith’s aesthetic standards. There is no frivolity about the city’s architecture; the most important structures are the strictly functional business buildings. Other structures, such as the Athletic Club—where the businessmen go to “relax” and discuss weighty matters of finance—are gaudy, unabashed copies of past styles; the club’s motley conglomeration includes everything from Roman to Gothic to Chinese. The culmination of literary talent in Zenith is the work of Chum...

(The entire section is 1225 words.)