George F. Babbitt is established as the main character through a telling of his morning routine. From the start, in his struggle to wake up, especially, you can see he’s dissatisfied with his life. Oh no! He wipes his face with a decorative guest towel! It is obvious his relationship with his wife isn’t ideal. It seems Babbitt’s only joy is his job in which he takes pride of his position. In contrast, he is unhappy with his house, his ungrateful children and again, his wife. He travels to and arrives at work, and we are introduced to people that seems a normal part of his everyday routine. There’s a bit of potential foreshadowing at the way he is staring at and thinking about his secretary. Still at work, he is threatened by a fancy young man Chester Kirby and rejects his idea so remain better than him. This seems like something he does to make him feel better about himself.
We learn much of Babbitt’s beliefs, his favorite people are Paul Riesling and his daughter, Tinka, he doesn’t like criminals or liberals etc. Overall, currently, I don’t believe I’d get along with Babbitt (ripping off Purdy was rude!).
Babbitt and Paul are at a country club full of dudes and have a long conversation that makes Babbitt uncomfortable and we find out men just kind of do what they are supposed to do in terms of marriage. Hating on young businessman, lying to his wife, and arguing with Ted; it doesn’t seem like Babbitt is having a great time. WHOA, Babbitt sort of accidentally got engaged to Myra so that explains a lot. In an uninteresting house, Babbitt goes to sleep and begins to dream, as we get a glimpse into the rest of the world.
So far, I enjoy the way this reads but I’m excited to get into the real story, because now we are just learning his routine, and I understand the point of routine is bland and boring and Lewis shows this for a reason. He is proving Babbitt is not satisfied with his everyday life but I’m ready for REBELLION!
Babbitt is preparing to be a snake by buying real estate to sell it for far more than he paid. Him and Myra planning a dinner party and discuss who they should invite and argue about logistics. An important note is that this takes place during prohibition so Babbitt’s fondness of drinking is illegal. This is super hypocritical because he hates crime but he loves alcohol so apparently alcohol wins in that battle of values. Then, at the dinner party, they come up with a great solution that maybe prohibition just shouldn’t apply to them. Babbitt is so bored and unhappy in his home and with his guests but feels ashamed when Myra agrees to let him vacation “alone” (he blew his business trip cover). Paul and Zilla have a super toxic relationship but eventually, she agrees to let him go to Maine as well. As the boys travel, they talk to other passengers on the train and get a little racist.
In Maine, they love not having their wives around but overall Babbitt still seems unhappy. It seems a recurring theme already that Babbitt keeps trying to quit smoking. He is so unhappy that everything that brings him joy seems like a very temporary distraction, even Tinka a little a bit.
His work in real estate got him invited to speak at an event which fluffs his ego but he still seems to try very hard to better his reputation like spending a lot of money on the train. Then, more ego fluffing when he is in the newspaper and gets named a board member of a fancy real estate squad.
Fired up by his public speaking and his hatred of the “left,” he fights to promote Lucas Prout instead of Seneca Doane for the election for mayor. Babbitt is establishing a new reputation for himself but maintains his dislike for liberals and socialist.
Babbitt is very restless foreshadowing his later crisis and potential losing his place in society.