Study Guide

Babbitt Chapter 32

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

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Chapter 32

(Sections I through V)

  • When Babbit gets back from Tanis', Myra asks him if he had a good time out. But he answers that he had a terrible time. He also tells her straight-up that he's been out to see a woman and he accuses her (Myra) of forcing him to do it with all her nagging.
  • Myra actually backs down at this point and apologizes for anything she might have done wrong to Babbitt. By the time they're done arguing, Babbitt has convinced himself that he's the victim in all of this. He makes a promise to himself that from now on, he won't let anyone tell him what to do, not Myra or Tanis or the guys down at The Athletic Club.
  • Babbitt continues to grumble about the conservative opinions of the men he hangs out with. And it seems like the men are starting to get sick of him, too.
  • One afternoon, three men walk into Babbitt's office and invite him to join the Good Citizens' League again. One is Charles McKelvey, one is an army colonel named Snow, and the other is a surgeon named Dr. Dilling. They more or less threaten Babbitt to get him to join, saying that no one will do business with him if he keeps acting like a socialist.
  • Babbitt holds firm, though, and refuses to join.
  • When he gets home, Myra is all over him about not joining the League. She is worried that his rebellion is going to drag down their entire family.
  • That night, he's so frustrated that he picks up the phone to call Tanis Judique. But he hangs up before talking to her.
  • Babbitt also has to deal with his father-in-law and business partner, Henry Thompson, coming into his office and asking him if he's trying to wreck their business.
  • Sure enough, many of the men in Zenith with whom Babbitt has worked in the past are now avoiding him. Even his employees are starting to quit like rats leaving a sinking ship.
  • Once business starts to suffer, he finally decides to cave in and join the Good Citizens' League. But no one approaches him about it again, and he's too proud to go crawling back to them to ask about it himself.
  • One evening, he can't take his stress anymore and he runs to Tanis. But she is cold and rejecting of him, and he has to slink away from her, defeated.
  • The only one who really seems to get a kick out of Babbitt's defiance is his son Ted, who loves the fact that Babbitt is annoying everyone with his rebellious views. Babbitt takes a lot of comfort in this support, and he and his son become closer than they've ever been.
  • Still though, he can feel his independence creeping out of him, and he starts to wish that he could go back to a life of conforming and fitting in.

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