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MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 15

Though Babbitt has gained fame, he is unhappy. He still feels the exclusion from society's highest realms. He is disappointed that the exclusive Tonawanda country club and the Union club have not invited him to become their member. He looks forward to attending a university class dinner in order to renew his acquaintance with wealthy classmates like Charlie McKelvey, Irving Tate, and Albert Dobson. He is hungry to be accepted into the highest circles of society, and eventually succeeds in inviting the McKelveys to his home. But the success is short lived. The McKelveys visit the Babbitts in their fine Floral Heights home but behave snobbishly and leave abruptly. They also fail to invite the Babbitt's for a return dinner. Myra and Babbitt are devastated but quickly try to hide their disappointment.

Interestingly, Lewis develops an almost perfectly identical storyline, this time putting George and Myra at the top of the food chain. One of Babbitt's old classmates who is now a small- insurance business man invited Babbitt and Myra to dinner. Myra and Babbitt are reluctant, they put the Overbrooks off, and when they finally arrive, they are indifferent and hasty. In short, despite their crushing disappointment, they proceed to treat another couple in precisely the same unkind manner they were treated.


Notes

In this chapter, Sinclair Lewis satirizes the American middle-class consciousness that is always striving to rise. Babbitt and Myra desire to strike friendship with those superior to them in status and are devastated when their appeal is rejected. But they are not so self-aware as to avoid doing the exact same thing to the Overbrooks.

In this chapter, society is a harsh, fickle monster. People hungrily seek the approval of the upper classes, even losing their own dignity, and yet are embarrassed and threatened when they themselves are associated with the lower classes. Lewis severely critiques the tenuous, insecure hold society has on its members

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