Anticipation Stage and "Fall" into the Other World
When we first meet George Babbitt, the guy seems to have a nice, quiet, respectable life. But there's some part of him that's restless and bored. He wonders if there's anything more to life than making money and having kids, and he often talks with his best friend, Paul Riesling, about what they might do to broaden their horizons. Still, though, Babbitt has enough success in his daily life to keep him reasonably satisfied. It's going to take something drastic to really shake him out of his comfort zone.
Babbitt's first major "fall" happens when Paul Riesling goes to jail for shooting his wife, Zilla. Without Paul, Babbitt feels like his life has no purpose. He starts to drink heavily and begins having an affair with a woman named Tanis Judique—which, we gotta admit, is an awesome name.
Initial Fascination or Dream Stage
At first, Babbitt can't get enough of his mistress Tanis and her group of friends. They party all the time and stay out as late as they want. Meanwhile, Babbitt starts to endorse more liberal political ideas. His old Republican friends become increasingly annoyed with him, but Babbitt revels in their annoyance.
That being said, he feels uncomfortable about the fact that he's cheating on his wife and that all his old friends are starting to walk away from him. Also, he's not sure if his liver is going to be able to keep up with his new party animal lifestyle.
As time goes by, Babbitt starts to get nervous about all the business he's losing out on because his old friends have decided that they don't want to sit with him at lunch any more. He's so fiercely rebellious, though, that he's determined not to let society tell him what to do. At one point, three powerful men show up at his office and demand that he join a right-wing group called the Good Citizens' League.
Babbitt refuses, but it's clear that he's terrified of the power these men could have over him. Meanwhile, he spends almost every night fighting with his wife Myra. When he's not fighting with her, he's off having an affair.
One night after a fight, Babbitt's wife Myra has to go to the hospital for emergency surgery. It's fairly clear that she's not going to die, but Babbitt doesn't know that. He's worried that Myra will die of a broken heart because of the horrible way he's been treating her. While she's in the hospital, he vows to mend his ways and to stop his affair with Tanis Judique.
Thrilling Escape and Return
Myra pulls through and survives her routine operation, and Babbitt makes good on his promise to return to respectable American life. He's not the exact same person as the one he was before rebelling, because he still fantasizes about retiring and being able to think and say whatever he wants.
At the end of the day, though, he goes right back to being an aggressive defender of right-wing politics, attacking socialists whenever he can. As the novel ends, his son Ted runs off and gets married, and even though most of the community criticizes the rash decision, Babbitt supports his son for following his heart.