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MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 9

Though everything is going well, Babbitt feels uncomfortable entertaining and playing host to his guests. The chatter irritates him. Frink's recitation bores him. Louetta Swanson's attitude annoys him. Soon, the guests also begin to stir. They try to play a game of cards but soon get tired of it. Then Mrs. Frink suggests they hold a seance. The men oppose the idea but the women win them over. They gather around the table under the leadership of Chum Frink. Soon, they succeed in moving the table. Frink imagines himself to be in contact with the great medieval Italian poet, Dante. Others join him in communicating with the poet. Only Babbitt is disenchanted with the game. After playing the game, the guests sit down to chat. Soon it is time for them to leave. Myra is happy about the success of the party but Babbitt finds he is relieved it is over. Strangely, he feels bored and uninterested in his friends.

In a fit of desperation, he reveals to Myra his plan to go to Maine with Paul. As an understanding wife, Myra grants him permission to enjoy his holiday with his friend.


Notes

Sinclair Lewis beautifully exposes the hypocritical society of the upper middle class, which keeps up its pretensions of respectability. Babbitt is at first enthusiastic over the idea of throwing a party but finds he is bored by his dull and affected circle of friends. The men and women attending the party expose their ignorance while pretending to show off their talents or knowledge. Babbitt feels restless in their company. In the words of the narrator, "Suddenly, without precedence, Babbitt was not merely bored but admitting that he was bored. It was ecstasy to escape from the table, from the torture of a straight chair and loll on the davenport in the living-room.... The others, from their fitful unconvincing talk, their expression of being slowly and painfully smothered, seemed to be suffering from the toil of social life and the horror of good food as much as himself."

The guests play bridge to relieve the monotony but even this game does not sustain their interest for long. At the suggestion of Mrs. Frink, they try their hand at spiritualism. When Mr. Frink invokes the spirit of Dante, the guests expose their ignorance by trying to talk frivolously about the great poet. Even Babbitt, who has never read the poet, is annoyed by the guests and their ignorant chatter. The whole atmosphere of the party is artificial. In the end, Babbitt is even more miserable and confused.

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