Study Guide

Babbitt Chapter 7

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Chapter 7

(Sections I through VI)

  • While Babbitt and Myra sit in the living room, the narrator once again gives us a description of their tasteful-yet-unoriginal home décor. Lewis puts it best when he writes, "Though there was nothing in the room that was interesting, there was nothing that was offensive. It was as neat, and as negative, as a block of artificial ice" (7.1.6).
  • In other words, the place is just blah. It's totally the same as the living room of anyone else living on their street. We imagine a lot of beige going on.
  • Babbitt sits with Myra and makes an offhand remark about women being unable to form regular eating habits. But Myra calls him out for eating a huge lunch that day. Babbitt is taken aback at being contradicted, but he quickly invents some excuse for himself and weasels away from the argument.
  • Babbitt talks for a moment about how he has felt downcast at certain points that day. But Mrs. Babbitt yawns and doesn't seem to listen very closely.
  • Before going to bed for the night, Babbitt draws a warm bath and gets into it. While he's inspecting his clothes for the next day, he finds one of his collars frayed and tears it up with a happy feeling of rebellion.
  • Once all of that is done, Babbitt heads to bed. He's disturbed once by the sound of his neighbor's car coming home. Then he falls asleep.
  • The narrator takes us on a panoramic journey around Zenith while Babbitt is asleep. In some other part of town, a rich woman named Lucile McKelvey is being seduced by a man who isn't her husband.
  • Bit by bit, the narrator shows us how the seducer tries to flatter his way into Mrs. McKelvey's bedroom.
  • Meanwhile, in another part of town, a cocaine dealer and a prostitute are having drinks together in a bar. These are definitely the sorts of people that authors were not supposed to show in novels back in 1922.
  • The narrator then tells us about a boxer-turned-preacher named Mike Monday (yeah, this novel is populated by people with awesome names) who is busy bullying all of the people in Zenith into accepting Christianity as their path to salvation.
  • Meanwhile, the left-wing lawyer Seneca Doane (told you so! Awesome names everywhere) is sitting down with a doctor and criticizing all of the horrible aspects of Zenith, especially all of its modern "conveniences." This is the first time we ever hear a character in the book outright criticize the kind of things—like technology and progress—that Babbitt loves so much.
  • Meanwhile, Babbitt's father-in-law and business partner, Henry Thompson, is scheming with a politician named Jake Offut about how to swindle a land deal that'll make them both a lot of money. Of course, they both want Babbitt to broker the deal in order to make it look respectable.
  • Finally, back in the Babbitt house, George Babbitt is asleep and dreaming of the fairy child, who makes him feel "gallant and wise and well-beloved" (7.6.5).

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