Study Guide

Babbitt Chapter 3

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

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Chapter 3

(Sections I through III)

  • Babbitt jumps into his car and is surprised when the thing starts, since it's a cold April morning. He says good morning to his neighbor Sam, and the narrator follows with descriptions of both Sam and Babbitt's other next-door neighbor, Dr. Howard Littlefield. Dr. Littlefield, like Babbitt, is a staunch Republican who knows how to make statistics show that the free market is always what's best for everybody. Babbitt deeply admires him.
  • At this moment, Littlefield comes out of his house to say hello before Babbitt heads out. The two of them chat about the weather and about new Republican candidates. They both agree that the country needs a president with a strong understanding of business.
  • Babbitt stops at a gas station on the way to work, and he's proud of how the people there treat him like a somebody.
  • Babbitt picks up a stranger on the way to work, looking to congratulate himself on being a good Samaritan. He and the other guy, though, come dangerously close to arguing over whether the streetcar company should be owned by the government or by a private company.
  • Once he lets the man off, Babbitt looks around the bustling streets of his city and feels good about himself and about the world.
  • Once he's at work, Babbitt congratulates himself on executing a perfect parallel parking job. Yeah, this guy likes to congratulate himself a lot.
  • The narrator gives us a rundown of Babbitt's office and of all the people who work in it. But we'll wait until these people pop up later to describe them. At this point in the book, they're not entirely important.
  • He dictates a quick letter to his secretary, even though his thoughts are totally fragmented and his secretary has to organize all of it. When he looks at the finished product, though, Babbitt gives himself another pat on the back for a job well done.
  • While he's dictating another letter, Babbitt catches himself staring at his secretary and wondering if she is actually the fairy child from his dreams. He quickly scolds himself for having these thoughts about someone who's not his wife. But still, it's a safe bet that we haven't heard the last of this…

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