After his experience with Ida the manicure girl, Babbitt swears that he'll stop chasing after women. But then again, he figures, maybe he just hasn't found the right one to chase yet. Maybe there's still a woman out there who will value him and make him happy.
Just as he starts thinking these things, his wife Myra returns from her time out east. For the first time, Babbitt is sorry that she's coming back, and he feels embarrassed by the need to fake his joy at her coming home.
Shortly after this, Babbitt pulls out his old lie about meeting someone in New York and uses the opportunity to sneak off to Maine to be alone. In reality, he wants to find the sort of experience he used to have with Paul, but he knows he can't find it.
He decides, though, that when he's in Maine, he's going to find an old guide and go out into the forest and be a manly man. He's going to get back his faith in himself.
And yes, if it sounds like the guy is really having a mid-life crisis, that's because he is.
Babbitt finds a guide named Joe in Maine and goes out into the forest with him. Joe wants to travel by motorboat, which surprises Babbitt, who wants to hike through the woods the way a man should.
Once they get to where they're going, they hang for a bit. But Joe wants to fall asleep early, and Babbitt is left feeling unsatisfied and resentful about the whole thing.
While he stays up alone, Babbitt realizes that what he wants out of life is to do some living before it's too late.