After giving us a look at one day of Babbitt's life (Chapters 1 through 7), the narrator tells us that Babbitt spends much of his spring buying up real estate that's about to double in value because he's gotten a hot tip about the city's streetcars extending their service into a new area.
As part of this wheeling and dealing, Babbitt and Myra decide to host a dinner party for twelve people. They briefly discuss the merits and pitfalls of different people they're thinking of inviting.
Before going to work the next morning, Babbitt gets into a scrap with Myra about whether he'll be home in time to dress for dinner. She also wants him to make sure that he remembers to pick up some ice cream that she has ordered especially for the dinner.
On his way home from work that day, Babbitt stops by an illegal speakeasy so he can pick up some liquor for the party. Of course, the guy supports prohibition politically. But he also likes booze, so he's not afraid to break his own rules to get it.
Babbitt meets up with a guy named Hanson and haggles with him over the price of a bottle of gin. But he knows that Hanson is his only option, so he ends up paying what the guy asks for it.
On the way home, he nearly forgets to pick up the ice cream. But he remembers at the last second.
Once home, Babbitt makes up a batch of cocktails to serve his guests that evening. He has one himself and immediately feels great. But by the time his guests arrive, he feels empty and grey. He even has to fake his happy greeting when he meets them at the door. His spirits quickly return, though, once he gets to drinking with them.
The group talks about prohibition while they all drink around the table. They agree that prohibition shouldn't apply to productive people like them; but they think it's a good idea to keep the working class from drinking, since it makes them less productive.
One of the dinner guests, Chum Frink, tells the crowd that there's a literary problem he's dealing with. He's recently seen some ads that have blown him away to such an extent that he questions his own ability as a writer.