Babbitt Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Some critics view Babbitt as an archetypal American figure. Others view him as a flesh-and-blood character who makes the book powerful because of his unique story. Which view of Babbitt do you agree with, and why?

  2. 2

    Discuss the effect of satire on Lewis's portrayal of religion in post-war America. How pervasive were the religious shortcomings in America at the time, and how might satire have inspired people to seek a more meaningful engagement with religion?

  3. 3

    Is Babbitt a work of realism, satire, or both? If it is both, what are the effects of combining and/or juxtaposing these modes?

  4. 4

    Both Babbitt and The Great Gatsby are American novels by American authors about the American Dream (among other things). Compare George Babbitt with Jay Gatsby in relation to the American Dream.

  5. 5

    How would you define the concept of Babbittry? Do you agree with critics who argue that the power of the book lies in the fact that Babbittry is still as widespread today as it was in the 1920s?

  6. 6

    Some of the women in Babbitt play very small roles in their own right, since the focus is mainly on the men. What do the marital relationships in the novel reveal about men in 1920s America? What factors cause the husbands to feel unfulfilled in their marriages?

  7. 7

    The city of Zenith is described in great detail throughout the novel. What does the city represent, and what role does it play in the lives of its inhabitants?

  8. 8

    What is the significance of Theodore Roosevelt Babbitt's name?

  9. 9

    What is Babbitt's attitude toward and his relationship with science and technology? What is Lewis's presentation of this relationship? In what ways do nature, science, and technology help or hurt society in the novel?

  10. 10

    How should readers characterize Babbitt's relationship with Paul Riesling? Does Paul feel about Babbitt the way Babbitt feels about Paul? Does Babbitt even know what he wants in human relationships?

  11. 11

    What might be the ultimate source of Babbitt's dissatisfaction? What does he really long for, and what might actually fulfill him? Is it possible for him to attain it? How do society and culture help or hinder Babbitt in his quest for fulfillment?

  12. 12

    In what ways does Babbitt become more reflective about human complexity and human experience over the course of the novel? How much does he learn from personal experience and reflection, and how much does he learn from others?