Study Guide

Babbitt Chapter 18

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

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Chapter 18

(Sections I through V)

  • As time passes, Babbitt becomes aware of his daughter's growing relationship with Ken Escott. He also becomes aware that his son Ted has been hanging around the girl next door, Eunice Littlefield.
  • The most distressing thing for Babbitt, though, is the realization that he sometimes feels a sexual attraction to Eunice, who is only seventeen years old. The fairy child in his dreams even begins to take on the image of Eunice.
  • One day, Ted decides to have a party for his graduating class in high school. When the party happens, it's fairly rowdy. Babbitt suspects that the guests are ducking outside to drink from flasks, but he doesn't call any of them out for fear of embarrassing Ted.
  • Finally, Eunice Littlefield's dad shows up and takes her home, explaining that his wife has a headache and that she needs Eunice. Eunice, though, is crying. Babbitt fears that Littlefield now thinks that Ted is a bad influence on Eunice.
  • Later in the evening, Babbitt smells whiskey on Ted's breath. And once the guests are gone, this leads to a huge fight. Ted rebels against how conservative and boring his parents are.
  • The thing is, though, that as concerned as Babbitt is about Ted, he's equally concerned about Verona for being too safe, especially in her relationship with Ken. All the two of them ever do is talk about philosophy.
  • Over the next little while, Babbitt's mother pays a visit, as does his half-brother Martin with his wife and baby. Babbitt listens to their boring conversation and listens to his children constantly nagging him for more stuff.
  • It gets to the point that he feels like he's going to burst from frustration. He thinks again about how nice it would be to never go back to work.

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