Study Guide

Babbitt Chapter 10

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Chapter 10

(Sections I through III)

  • The Babbitts go to call on the Rieslings (Babbitt's friend Paul and his wife Zilla).
  • When the talk comes around to the idea of Paul needing a vacation, though, Zilla goes off on a rant about how she's the one who needs a vacation from Paul. She can't stand how everyone always thinks of Paul as a calm, gentle man.
  • At home, he's totally crazy (according to Zilla).
  • Eventually, Babbitt has enough of Zilla and he blows up on her, telling her that she's a total wet blanket of a wife and that she has no right accusing Paul of being the bad one in their relationship. Ouch.
  • His insults eventually cause Zilla to break down and cry. He does, though, get her to agree to let Paul come on the Maine vacation with him.
  • Next thing you know, Babbitt and Paul are buying their fishing gear as they get ready for their trip. After a short spending spree, they hop a train that'll take them north to Maine.
  • In the train car, Babbitt strikes up a conversation with some other male passengers about hotels in various cities, and which ones are good.
  • It's a long time before Paul joins the conversation. And when he does, he gets too highbrow for the businessmen, talking about a nearby factory as if it's beautiful. The rest of the men look at it and only see something that makes money.
  • Next, the conversation turns to black people. All of the businessmen agree that in 1922, black servants are getting too uppity with their masters and not knowing their place well enough. Refresher: this book is taking place way before the Civil Rights Movement, so people can be pretty odious and racist.

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