Study Guide

Babbitt Tone

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Tone

Satirical, Exaggerating

It doesn't take long to realize that Sinclair Lewis is exaggerating when he writes that George Babbitt's car "was poetry and tragedy love and heroism" and his business office is "his pirate ship" (3.3.1).

Satire alert! These lines are intended to get us laughing at the ridiculous importance that Babbitt places on his material possessions and the pirate-like cunning (y'argh!) that he exhibits as a real estate salesman. By suggesting that Babbitt's life is extremely exciting, Lewis is actually reminding us of how boring and uninteresting it really is.

It's the literary equivalent of saying "Wow, Auntie Jenny. Tuna noodle casserole? How exotic. Is this dish Turkish? Or maybe Peruvian? I've never tasted anything like it."

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