Study Guide

Babbitt Chapter 15

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Chapter 15

(Sections I through V)

  • Despite all of Babbitt's newfound fame, he still doesn't get invited to the parties or the clubs of the super-rich. This frustrates him to no end, although he'll never let on to anyone that he wants anything to do with these clubs.
  • Next thing you know, Babbitt is going to a reunion dinner for his graduating university class. Paul goes as well.
  • Eventually, Babbitt and Paul run into Charley McKelvey, the millionaire hero of their graduating class. Charley is nice to them, and he tells Babbitt how much he admires his (Babbitt's) latest venture into the world of speechmaking. As you can imagine, this makes Babbitt's week.
  • Babbitt is so bold as to ask McKelvey about having dinner sometime. McKelvey vaguely agrees at first, but as soon as Babbitt tells him about some real estate tips that might make him money, McKelvey brightens and says that Babbitt and Myra will absolutely have to come to his place sometime.
  • It still turns out to be the Babbitts who invite the McKelveys over for dinner. But to their surprise, the McKelveys actually come. After Babbitt bickers with Myra about how it should go, the McKelveys show up. To keep up conversation, Babbitt has also invited a few other friends like the scholar Howard Littlefield.
  • Unfortunately, the dinner is a total failure. No one talks much, and when they do, it's all forced conversation. When it's all over and the guests are gone, Myra reassures Babbitt that it was a wonderful party. But moments later, he can hear her crying in another room.
  • In the coming weeks, Babbitt waits for a return dinner invitation that never comes. Meanwhile, he reads in the paper about how Charley McKelvey and his wife are entertaining a British nobleman named Sir Gerald Doak who's visiting from England.
  • In an ironic twist, one of Babbitt's less successful classmates, Ed Overbrook, invites him to his house for dinner. And of course Babbitt treats Ed the same way that Charley has treated Babbitt. He and Myra finally agree to dinner, but they stay for as short a time as possible and talk to one another on the ride home about how sad the Overbrooks are.

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