A successful, middle-class real estate broker with a wife and three children. Though he has everything it seems he should want, Babbitt is deeply dissatisfied with his life and his family. He rebels by having an affair, adopting a bohemian lifestyle, and advocating liberal politics. But after his wife nearly dies, he renounces the activities of his rebellion and returns to a life of propriety and routine.
She is matronly, kind, diligent, and uninteresting to almost everyone. She tries to please Babbitt and is extremely unobtrustive, even when she suspects him of having an affair. Her only purpose in life is to be needed by her family.
Theodore Roosevelt (Ted) Babbitt
A somewhat bland seventeen-year-old who does not perform well in school. A natural mechanic, he does not want to go to college, as George Babbitt instructs, but to become an engineer. He and Eunice Littlefield, both still in high school, elope.
Ted Babbitt's girlfriend and, eventually, Ted's wife. Although she is a flapper, Babbitt approves because she is Howard Littlefield's daughter, and he has the utmost respect for Howard.
Katherine (Tinka) Babbitt
Babbitt's ten-year-old daughter. He feels a great affection for her, and he takes comfort in her companionship when his friends desert him.
A "dumpy brown-haired girl of twenty-two" (p. 15) who went to Bryn Mawr College. She is a filing-clerk at the Gruensberg Leather Company offices, but she wants to be involved with public service work and progressive politics. After a long and intellectually-driven courtship, she finally marries Kenneth Escott.
A beginning reporter for Zenith's newspaper, he marries Verona Babbitt.
George's father-in-law and business partner who rarely comes to the office.
Paul Riesling's widowed girlfriend in Chicago. Babbitt is initially dismayed when he sees the two of them together.
One of Babbitt's classmates and roommates at the State University, and one of Babbitt's favorite people. The Babbitts and the Rieslings take an annual vacation to Maine. He is also a wholesaler and small manufacturer of prepared-paper roofing, though he wishes that he had pursued his calling as a violinist. Highly resentful of his hen-pecking wife, he shoots her in what the court decides is a moment of temporary insanity and goes to jail, where he seems to die spiritually.
Paul's wife, she uses religion as a weapon against him.
A pretty, middle-aged widow to whom George sells an apartment and with whom George has an affair. She leads a bohemian lifestyle and lures Babbitt into her world of parties and liquor. Although she initially represents freedom to Babbitt, she eventually makes him feel stifled and emotionally handcuffed (like his wife), and he abandons her.
Charley and Lucile McKelvey
A pretentious couple who thrive on the exhibition of money and class. Myra admires them, and George is alternately resentful, envious, and admiring of them.
Babbitt's next-door neighbor. He is the secretary of a good bathroom-fixture firm. Babbitt disapproves of him and his wife because he considers them bohemians, throwing late-night parties with alcohol and loud music. Yet, during Babbitt's brief flirtation with bohemianism, he grows to understand them and even attends one of their parties.
Howard Littlefield, Ph.D.
Babbitt's other next-door neighbor. With his doctor of philosophy in economics from Yale, he is considered the scholar of the neighborhood and the authority on almost everything. He is also the employment manager and publicity-counsel of the Zenith Street Traction Company, a strict Presbyterian, and a firm Republican. He is described as "funereal and archidiaconal" (p. 25). He is very upset when Ted and Eunice elope.
A coal dealer who home-brews beer. He is also a member of the Boosters' club and becomes Babbitt's greatest enemy during the rebellious phase. He essentially manipulates Babbitt into joining the Good Citizens' League.
A young salesman at Babbitt's company. Somewhat incompetent, he is losing a sale when we are introduced to him, and he is eventually fired for being unprofessional and dishonest in one of his sales.
A pretty stenographer about whom Babbitt fantasizes, since she reminds him of the fairy girl of his dreams. She leaves Babbitt's company and starts working at Babbitt's rival company when, due to his rebellion, no one will do business with him.
T. Cholmondeley (Chum) Fink
Howard Littlefield's neighbor, he is a poet and advertising agent. He feels insecure about his talent and wishes he were a better writer.
A former prize fighter turned Protestant evangelist. A "salesman of salvation" (p. 89), he is a con artist who is invited to Zenith when the Chamber of Commerce reports that he can prevent workmen from striking. His speeches are vulgar, defensive, and not at all religious.
A progressive lawyer who fights the standardization of thought. Extremely liberal (a friend to socialists), he heads farmer-labor tickets and inspires Babbitt to temporarily turn to political rebellion.
An agent for the Javelin motor car who lives across the street from George. He and his wife, Louetta, are always nagging each other.
Pretty, pliant, and sexy. Babbitt makes several attempts at flirting with her. Her life seems somewhat empty and boring.
Sir Gerald Doak
An elite guest hosted by the McKelveys, who hold a party in his honor to which the Babbitts are not invited. He and Babbitt become friends in Chicago, where Doak reveals how much he dislikes having prestige and class in America. Babbitt tries to use this connection as social leverage.
A classmate of Babbitt, he is socially inferior to Babbitt. He invites the Babbitts over to dinner but becomes snubbed by them when they do not reciprocate the invitation.
Reverend John Jennison Drew, M.A., D.D., LL.D.
Pastor of Chatham Road Presbyterian, he has one 'real' and two honorary degrees. He asks Babbitt to devise a plan to make money for the Sunday school. Another religious figure who seems to have little connection to piety, he writes essays such as "The Dollars and Sense Value of Christianity." He is primarily a businessman and proud of it.
Educational director of the Y.M.C.A. and leader of the church choir. He is presented as sexually depraved when he invites his class of 16-year-old boys over to his house to have a heart-to-heart discussion and when he makes other men uncomfortable through physical contact and invitations to his house.
President of the First State Bank. He befriends Babbitt and supports him in some unethical business ventures, but he turns on Babbitt during his liberal phase and tries to bully him into joining the Good Citizens' League.
A pretty young manicurist at the Pompeian Barber Shop whom George takes to dinner and kisses, but she ultimately rejects him.
George's guide in Maine.
A "matronly" and "spinsterish" friend of Tanis Judique, whom Babbitt meets at a party and dances with.
One of Tanis's friends ("the Bunch"). She is impressed with Babbitt's stature in society.
One of the Bunch.
A member of the bunch who is about Babbitt's age. He is also a railway clerk. At one point, he warns Babbitt about drinking too much.
Mrs. Opal Mudge
A hypnotic pop religious figure without any clear message, but a message to which Myra Babbitt subscribes.
Dr. Earl Patten
The doctor whom George calls in the middle of the night to treat Myra's appendicitis. He eventually calls on surgeon Dr. Dilling to handle the situation.
A surgeon who is considered one of the most important men in the Athletic Club. He saves Myra's life when she gets appendicitis.
Utility man and rent collector, he is also insurance salesman at Babbitt's company.
Chester Kirby Laylock
Resident salesman at the Glen Oriole acreage development at Babbitt's company. Although he is enthusiastic, Babbitt does not like him because he finds him girlish.
Slow accountant and file-clerk at Babbitt's company.
A nervous real-estate speculator who trusts Babbitt's professional advice and always seeks his opinions.
A grocer in a residential district called Linton.
A ladies' ready-to-wear clothing buyer for Parcher and Stein's department store.
Professor Joseph K. Pumphrey
Owner of the Riteway Business College and instructor in various subjects.
He owns the best laundry in Zenith.
Manager of the Zeeco car company and a Princeton graduate.
Dr. Kurt Yavitch
A histologist who believes that commercial standardization in Zenith has stripped the city of all of its beauty.
Politician and friend of Henry Thompson.
A poet and owner of Hafiz book shop.
A gruff saloon owner in the Old Town who sells gin to George (during Prohibition) for his cocktail party.
The Caterer of Zenith; George gets ice cream for a party from him.
A woman hired to help with Babbitt's cocktail party.
A man with a velour hat, whom Babbitt speaks with in the smoking compartment on the Pullman going to Maine.
An official Zenith delegate at the S.A.R.E.B. annual convention. He convinces Babbitt to submit the paper that leads him to temporary fame as an orator.
Managing editor of the Advocate-Times. He is also an official delegate at the S.A.R.E.B. annual convention.
W.A. Rogers, Alvin Thayer, and Elbert Wing
Three more official delegates at the S.A.R.E.B. annual convention.
Mr. and Mrs. Sassburger
from the city of Pioneer, they convince Babbit and Rogers to stay in Monarch another night. They offer tea and then go out for drinks.
Babbitt's half-brother from Catawba. He breeds cattle and runs a general store.
Babbitt Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Babbitt is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.