Study Guide

Babbitt Women and Femininity

By Harry Sinclair Lewis

Women and Femininity

It's clear from George Babbitt's insecurities that masculinity is a big concern in Babbitt. But as large a theme as masculinity is, the concept of femininity is just as important. After all, if you're living in a society that insists men should act like traditional men, it's also going to insist that women act like women.

This usually means that women are supposed to be quiet and passive compared to men, and that the ladeez should take care of their appearances in order to please men. Men like Babbitt, though, are perfectly aware of how shallow this kind of thinking is. The problem is that they keep buying into it anyway.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. In which moments do characters in this book show concern about how "feminine" certain female characters are? Do they tend to worry about being too feminine or too un-feminine?
  2. In what ways is Myra Babbitt oppressed by her role in the Babbitt house? Why is Babbitt allowed to express his dissatisfaction in ways that she can't?
  3. What is the connection in this book between anxieties about femininity and anxieties about getting older? Use specific evidence from the text to support your answer.

Chew on This

In Babbitt, we find that almost every female character faces significant restrictions on her opportunities in life because she's a woman.

In Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis shows us that women have a lot of the same dissatisfactions as men. The main difference is that they can't express their dissatisfaction without being labeled as "nags."

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