Conforming to the Standard

Conformity is one of the most prominent themes of the satirical novel Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. The main character, George F. Babbitt, is middle-aged, middle-class, and lives in middle America in the 1920s. World War I has just ended and the nation, including Babbitt's town of Zenith, is focused on progress and development. The post-war boom in white-collar jobs seems, according to the context of the novel, to breed a certain type of individual, of which Babbitt is a perfect example. These people are so-called "standardized Americans" who share similar values and characteristics. They are white, Republican, social club-joining, church-going, family-loving, business men. In certain respects these men represent the American Dream of happiness and prosperity. Yet in this context, Lewis shows that despite attaining the levels of conformity so desperately sought after, the American Dream is just a dream after all. Though Babbitt catches a glimpse of what life is like outside his standardized bubble of existence, this life will remain a dream for him because he has already succumbed to the conformist lifestyle and it is too late to backpedal. Lewis conveys to the reader a dismal and sometimes terrifying idea of early...

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