free booknotes online

Help / FAQ




<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version

Comparisons and Contrasts

One of the aspects of Lewis' writing that clearly defines him is his tendency to use parallels and foils for certain characters and situations. In Babbitt, there are numerous parallels. Paul and Babbitt are clearly set up as foils. Both are dissatisfied. Both have affairs and both blame their wives. Some scenes between the men and their wives are eerily similar. The similarities are used, however, to illustrate an important thematic idea. Paul is unable to accept his conventionality. He loses his spirit and falls into a bottomless depression. Babbitt, who is so similar to Paul in so many ways, follows a different course. After trying his hand at rebellion, he resigns himself. His salvation is dependent on the very thing Paul could not bring himself to do: submit.

As a result of the obvious parallel of the two men, their wives are also compared. Myra submits to her husbands mood swings and rankings. Zilla does not. In the end, Myra survives and keeps her home, her family, her husband. She is able to continue as she always had. She even seems happy. Zilla, who could never accept the sad state of her life, is shot. She becomes destitute and bitter. Like Paul, her failure to submit to the state of her life is her tragic downfall.

The situation between the Babbitts and the McKelveys and the Babbitts and the Overbrooks is another painfully real parallel. The Babbitts long to increase their standing in society by attracting the friendship of the McKelveys, who do not seem to want such an alliance. In return, the Babbitts are sought by the Overbrooks, and act identically as the McKelveys. The viciousness of social climbing and a stinging damnation of society are at the heart of this parallel.


Probably the most important parallel in the novel is the one between Babbitt and his son Ted. All along, Ted is characterized as rebellious. He does not want college. He does not want conventional jobs and education. Babbitt pushes him, persuades him and cajoles him. In the end, however, Ted is adamant in his refusal to live his life for the sake of appearances. He marries his girlfriend in secret and declares he will not attend college. Essentially, he and his father are from totally different schools of thought. In the end, though, it is Babbitt who recognizes their bond. He draws his son aside and tells him not to succumb to convention. He shares that his greatest mistake was made when he submitted. It is too late for him to make the change. He encourages his son not to let the opportunity for autonomy slip away from him. This parallel more than any other expresses the heart of the novel.

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version


<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
Google
Web
PinkMonkey

Google
  Web PinkMonkey.com   

All Contents Copyright PinkMonkey.com
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.


About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 8:52:24 AM