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George F. Babbitt
George F. Babbitt is a typical American businessman--the antihero of Lewis' novel. He is caught in the wheels of the urban machine, trapped in the conventions he has chosen for his life. In a sort of mid-life crisis, he begins to question and reject the life he is trapped in. But he finds it is too late to make such a drastic change. Society is too great a force to resist, or the changes are too big to implement. In the end, he is no different than in the beginning. He still has his loveless marriage, his conventional job, his pretentious friends. But he is resigned to his fate and he will fight it no longer.
Babbitt is both a type and an individual. He represents and entire class of people, the middle class which consists of ambitious, money-minded, hypocritical men. When he is an individually portrayed character, he is sympathetic, though sometimes pathetic. He is a man searching for peace and contentment.
As a symbol for a class of people, he is an astute businessman, who pleases his customers and makes money in the process. He likes all the things that money can buy--a big house, a fast car and a holiday in a resort. He is happy living in comfort and leading a life of luxury. Like his fellow men, he is ambitious too. In order to earn recognition, he takes part in social activities, voices his views from time to time and helps people in settling business deals. He desires to befriend the rich and the famous to improve his social status. However, in the process of achieving his ambition, he sometimes acts hypocritical since he does not always do the things he believes in.
As an individual he displays certain shortcomings, eccentricities, desires and notions which make him stand apart from his compatriots. Babbitt is basically a restless person who feels restricted within the four walls of the house or the office. He desires some change, some excitement. Whenever he is faced with problems at home or in the office, he wants to escape to the country, or fantasize about a fairy girl. To refresh his mind, he pays a visit to the club or his friend, Paul Riesling. Talking to Paul makes him happy and confident.
Sinclair Lewis has made the character of Babbitt interesting by projecting his diverse personality. Babbit is successful but troubled. He has ambitions but he also has failures. He commits mistakes but makes amends before it is too late. Babbitt is a picture of contradiction. In the final analysis, Babbitt is a likable character who amuses the readers through his sometimes contradictory and confused speeches and actions.