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Zenith, the model commercial city, is locked up by strikes in the month of September. It starts with the agitation of the telephone company employees but is soon followed by the demands of the truck drivers and dairy product workers. When other unions support these agitations, there is a threat of a general strike. Business is affected and there is confusion in the minds of the people. Violence erupts at places and the workers are blamed for it. Seneca Doane supports the workers, while the business class including Babbitt's associates oppose them. When Reverend Drew voices his opinion against the strikes, Babbitt questions him. His objections shock and confuse his friends, who had always believed him to be the staunchest of supporters.
Things quickly spin out of control and the National Guard is called to bring the city to normalcy. These conservative officers treat the workers harshly. Babbitt is upset over this and begins to protest the high-handed attitudes of the National Guard against the working classes.
Zenith, the city that Babbitt was proud of living in, now becomes a battle ground for strikers and employees. The workers demand their rights. There are a few like Seneca Doane who support the workers but there are more who are against it. Conservative businessmen and the clergy of the church decry the attempts of the strikers to demand their rights. Babbitt tries to emulate the socialistic views of Seneca Doane by supporting the workers. His friends and family eye him with suspicion. Babbitt feels helpless. No one seems to appreciate or understand his views.