Babbit Essay, Research Paper
Essay on BabbittIt seems to be a fact that at any given time in history there are social and political issues that just seem to be a part of the times. It is not surprising to think that these issues, whether they reflect the political climate, the social values of the times, or the personal and financial priorities of society, seem to be somewhat constant in their focus. The themes seem to be the same, but perhaps it is the percentage of followers at any given time that may change. It also seems that the current technological advances and the prosperity, or lack of it influence these issues greatly.Throughout this novel the city, of Zenith is widely criticized. This city becomes very prosperous by pumping out standardized products, but in the process, it has also managed to pump out standardized people. The people of the town of Zenith are very much the same. They dress alike, think alike, do the same things, and are after the same goals. It is also thought of very poorly to stray from this. In this novel it is popular to hate socialism but, I would venture to say that the vast majority of people that hold this opinion are not even informed on what socialism is. They are just going along with the crowd. Now this is a direct link to not only the 1920 s but to the 1990 s. In the 20 s people believed the mass majorities were right and everyone jumped on the bandwagons. People get most of their information from the same places, thus only knowing what people want them to know and the result is that everyone has the same ideas about the same things. People now and in the 20 s, as shown in Babbit, are not receptive to people that think, act, dress, or do differently. Blending masses of people happened in Zenith, the 1920 s, and now.In this ficticious town of Zenith, the people worship material possessions. The people of Zenith are judged by each other according to their wealth and their possessions. The main character George is always concerned about his possessions. He tries to impress people with things, not with himself. Nobody in Zenith is concerned with people themselves, but they are worried about what people have. The opinions people have about one another are influenced more by what the other person has, not by what kind of person he or she is. This is definitely the same both now and the 20 s. In the 1920 s cars, appliances, and other gadgets were just being invented and nobody was considered anybody without them. This is the same materialistic thinking we have now. People are judged and placed in a category based on what they have, not who they really are. This would appear to be another social commentary Lewis correctly identified that is constant throughout time.There is no question that failing relationship ships are also a part of society, both now and then that Sinclair focused on. George Babitt is not happy with his life. It would appear the he was going through something like a mid-life crisis. To deal with this he turned to the arms of another woman. George decided it was best, instead of working his problems with his wife, to have an affair. Now this is definitely not something you can say didn t happen in the 20 s, but it is much more prominent now. Not only is it more common today, but it isn t looked on as badly as it was in the novel. In the novel George is criticized and frowned upon for having an affair. If that were to happen now he may not look good for doing this but, would be more excepted. This happens for the simple fact affairs are more common. Though relationships may struggle and people may look at it differently, affairs still and will happen.
This book also discusses the hypocracy of supposedly respectable people. The main business men in this book call themselves respectable but, quite to the contrary they do some very unrespectable things. They say the are honest but that is a flat out lie .They are supposedly in favor of prohibition, but they love to drink. George calls for business ethics and even fires a man for shady business dealings. This, right after he takes a kick back and illegal information. They all claim to lead a moral life yet visit a brothel. This is the same hypocracy that goes on today with supposedly respected people. In the 1920 s president Harding was supposed to be a respected person yet had numerous scandals. The same thing has happened with our president today. Clinton should be an example but instead commits immoral acts in the White House. It would appear that if both presidents of both times did the same things, hypocracy among respected people is a common thing. Babbit is very concerned with his social standing in his town. He tries to make friends with the wealthy people of Zenith just to improve his social standing. He first tries to befriend the Mckelveys and when that doesn t work he moves on to another rich family, the Overbrooks. In this town social standing is so important that people will abandon old friends for new rich ones. As in Zenith, there are people now will also turn on their friends if it will help them move up in the social order in our class structure. This was happening back in the 1920 s, so it s nothing new. People would try to portray themselves as a higher social standing by any means. Another common theme of society in Zenith is a lack of culture. People are more concerned with reading common poetry that is in all actuality garbage than in reading classics. A person who writes advertisement jingles is considered a poet. Back in the 20 s there was more of a lack of culture than now. People couldn t be bothered to concern themselves with it. Presently culture has become more popular but it would be a pretty safe bet that you wouldn t have to go to far to find a person that doesn t know what the Mona Lisa is. Though this is very sad that things like this are not held in high regard in and of these societies, it is the truth. Now the final bit of social commentary Lewis gives is in showing that organized religion is becoming corrupt. Over the course of the story you can tell this by the things people related to the church to do. A preacher, Mike Monday, is brought in to help fight labor unions. The local Reverend runs his church like a business. He even commissions George to find a way to raise Sunday school attendance. George,s advice consists of tuning away from normal religious practices in favor or running it like a business. This kind f practice has been around since the middle ages so obviously it was done in the 1920 s and is still done today. Times may have changed since the 1920 s but religion still has business practices, which in some cases over shadow the real purpose of religion. There are many societal values that are criticized by Lewis Sinclair in Babbitt that still are issues today. It is not difficult to compare these issues with what is important in society today, at least to some extent. The context with regard to everyday life may have changed, but the main themes of hypocrisy, obsession with status and possessions, ignorance of culture, corruption of religion, intolerance of that which is different and a basic failure in personal relationships still remain today.