Study Guide

Babbitt Chapter 24

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

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Chapter 24

(Sections I through IV)

  • Babbitt goes to visit his buddy Paul in jail. Paul is practically a ghost at this point. He's more or less lost the will to live. Babbitt knows that in some ways, Paul is already dead.
  • On the way home, Babbitt can't help but feel that some part of him is already dead, too. His pride at being successful, his faith in the goodness of the world. He just doesn't care about any of it anymore.
  • Then one day, a woman shows up in his real estate office looking to rent an apartment. Her name is Tanis Judique and Babbitt is almost instantly attracted to her. And you can't be that surprised, since Babbitt has really been going out of his way to find a woman to be attracted to.
  • After a long chat, Babbitt agrees to take her to an apartment and show her around the place personally. He even gets her to promise to give him a dance lesson at some future time.
  • While they're alone in the apartment, he has the urge to put his arm around her. But he resists it and they part ways.
  • Next thing you know, Babbitt is making up a reason to talk to the pretty girl who works in the nail shop on the bottom floor of his building.
  • He decides to go down for a haircut, and is disappointed to find that the girl he's looking for is with another customer. He makes sure to draw out his haircut for as long as possible. When he finally sees that she is free, he muses out loud that he'd like to have a manicure.
  • When he first goes over to the girl, he starts by talking about the weather. But soon enough, he's complimenting her and getting her to open up about her life.
  • Finally, he goes for it and asks her out to dinner. She hesitates, but agrees. Babbitt, of course, justifies all of this to himself by thinking that there's nothing wrong with a middle-aged man like himself having a nice, friendly dinner with a pretty twenty-year-old. Riiiiiiight.
  • His car breaks down in his driveway, so he needs to take a cab to go pick her up.
  • The date ends up going nowhere, of course. As far as Babbitt knows, the young woman just wants a nice free meal.
  • But after taking her in his arms for a moment, he gets the young woman (named Ida) to reconsider. She suggests that they go out for a drive in a taxi. In the back of the taxi, he kisses her.
  • After that, she pulls away and there's no more romance for the rest of the night. The cab drops her off at her home and Babbitt rides away in it, saying "Oh my God" to himself.

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