Study Guide

Babbitt Chapter 17

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

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Chapter 17

(Sections I through V)

  • The narrator gives us a long description of William Earthorne's house, which is one of the oldest houses in all of Zenith.
  • Babbitt and his buddy Chum Frink show up to discuss some promotional strategies for the Sunday school with Earthorne.
  • Babbitt introduces all sort of schemes and strategies for increasing interest in the school. First, he wants to divide the students into ranks like you do with an army, with all the best students having higher ranks than the worst one. That'll provide incentive for students to do better.
  • Second, he wants to hire a bona fide press agent to make sure that the school is constantly getting mentioned in the newspapers.
  • William Eathorne approves of all his ideas, and he drives home happy to think that he can hang with the likes of a bank president.
  • The guy that Babbitt ends up hiring to promote the school is a young man named Ken Escott. It's not long after Ken's first visit to the Babbitt house that he and Babbitt's daughter Verona strike up a relationship.
  • While this is all going on, Babbitt convinces Ken to put a special piece about Reverend Drew in the newspaper. Once this happens, Babbitt makes sure to tell the Reverend-Doctor that this was his doing. Drew is pleased, to say the least.
  • Score one more point for good ol' Babbitt.
  • Being chummy with William Eathorne also gives Babbitt another great advantage: he can get bank loans without having them officially recorded in the books. Or in other words, no one will know when he's about to make a big real estate purchase.

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