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MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 16

Babbitt is unable to come to terms with the fact that he is not good enough for the McKelveys. To distract himself, he starts participating in the Elks and other organizations. He also becomes member of the Chatham Road Presbyterian Church. When the Reverend John Jennison asks Babbitt to become a member of the committee to publicize Sunday school, he readily accepts the offer, though he has very little knowledge of religion. He attends the Sunday school classes in Bible, philosophy, and Oriental ethnology, but finds them uninspiring. Then he gets hold of a few Sunday school journals and reads them with interest.


Notes

It is ironic that with all the fame and wealth he continues to garner, Babbitt still feels dissatisfied. There is always another step to climb and another status to acquire. And when Babbitt is denied the ultimate privilege of mingling with the uppermost class, he tries to get recognition through some other channel. Hence, he starts participating actively in clubs like the Elks and volunteers his services to the Chatham road Presbyterian Church. He has very little knowledge of religion, yet he still becomes a member of the Sunday school committee. In the words of the author "If you had asked Babbitt what his religion was, he would have answered in sonorous Boosters' club rhetoric, 'My religion is to serve my fellow men, to honor my brother as myself, and to do my bit to make life happier for one and all.' If you had pressed him for more detail, he would have announced, 'I'm a member of the Presbyterian Church and naturally, I accept its doctrines.' If you had been so brutal as to go on, he would have protested, 'There's no use discussing and arguing about religion; it just stirs up bad feeling."

Sinclair Lewis humorously exposes the ignorance of Babbitt and his hypocrisy. In order to be recognized by society and commended by the church, he attends classes held by the Sunday school. The scholastic lectures are dull and confuse him. He is at a loss to suggest measures for its improvement. However, Babbitt does not give up. He reads a few Sunday school journals and gathers ideas from them. He finds many lucrative tips on 'Focusing Appeals,' 'Scouting for New members,' and 'Getting Prospects to sign up with the Sunday school." When he approaches Sunday School like a business, he is suddenly efficient and organized. He decides to express these views to the committee.

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