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MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 2

Babbitt's home is described in detail as a modern house, decorated tastefully and equipped with the latest gadgets. The Babbitt household is assembled to have their breakfast in the kitchen. Verona, the eldest daughter, is a graduate working in a firm. Her younger brother Ted is a dandy youth who loves sleek cars and pretty girls. Tinka, the youngest offspring of the Babbitts, is a charming girl with a sweet tooth. The children keep talking as they eat and Babbitt gets exhausted hearing their chatter. After they leave the table, he takes refuge in the morning newspaper. He reads the news aloud to Mrs. Babbitt and she comments on it. Soon, it is time for him to leave for his office.


Notes

In this chapter, Sinclair Lewis lays down the difference between a house and a home. The house inhabited by the Babbitts has all the luxuries of life to make it comfortable, all the new technologies and appliances, everything his prosperity can afford. But the house lacks the warmth of a home. The members of the household are not in harmony. The relationship between Babbitt and his wife is formal and not as intimate as it should be between a happily married couple. The rapport between the Babbitts and their children is also not ideal. The children are not contented with their situations; they seem to want more and appreciate the things they have less. Verona has a good job but she wishes to serve the community to get creative satisfaction. Ted is not satisfied with the comforts provided to him and wants a car to take his girl friends for a ride. Tinka is a sweet child but she keeps gobbling ice cream, much to the discomfort of her father. Babbitt feels irritated by the chatter of his children and their constant and increasing wants. He only wants a little peace. After the children leave, Babbitt sits down to read the newspaper. He shares the news with his wife who is uninterested. However, as a dutiful wife, she pretends to share his enthusiasm and interest. The lack of unity in the family is more than obvious and it is understandable why Babbitt is relieved to go to work. Even the good-bye he bids to his wife is formal. In the words of Lewis, " He kissed her - he didn't quite kiss her - he laid unmoving lips against her flushing cheek." Babbitt's behavior towards his wife is like everything else in his life - not spontaneous and genuine, but forced and expected.

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