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MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 6

Babbitt returns back to his office after lunch. He accompanies his boss and father-in-law on a car-shopping trip and helps the older man buy a great deal from a friend at the dealership, a fact which makes him very proud. Back in the office, he has a confrontation with his salesman, Stanley Graff. Graff asks for a hike in commission and a bonus since he plans to get married. Babbitt refuses his demands and gives him a lecture on morality. Graff's demands are not altogether unreasonable and Babbitt feels a momentary twinge of guilt, especially when he realizes others in the office think Graff deserves the raise. Still, he sticks to his unyielding response.

At home, Babbitt's son Ted expresses a desire to drive a new, stylish car. Babbitt promises to buy one, though not till next year. Ted tells his father he is tired of school and thinks college is a waste of time. He says he would rather do short term courses in certain fields in order to make quick money. Babbitt is impressed with Ted's ambition but insists that college is important if only for the social status it brings. Ted agrees and leaves to visit with friends, not bothering to finish his homework.

Babbitt contemplates Paul's unhappiness in relation to his own. He wonders if Myra is as unhappy as he. He thinks about how he wanted to become a lawyer until he got married. In a spontaneous gesture of sympathy or guilt, he touches Myra. She is startled, but pleased, at his unexpected caress.


Notes

This chapter reveals Babbitt's sense of efficiency and effectiveness both at work and at home. At work, he pleases his client by accompanying him in choosing the right accommodation. As a shrewd businessman, he gets a good car at a discount price for his father-in-law. And as the boss of Realty Company, he plays the part of a disciplined officer teaching his juniors good moral sense and setting down limits on income.

At home, he is the dutiful and responsible father and husband. To please Ted, he promises to get a new car the next year. He tries to appreciate his son's point of view regarding school studies and practical learning, though he insists on acquiring a university education for the social status. When his wife Myra expresses concern about the relationship between Ted and his girlfriend Eunice Littlefield, he agrees to talk to Ted about the facts of life. He appreciates Myra for being a good housewife and feels sorry for her that he does not love her.

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