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MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 20

Babbitt reaches Paul's hotel and waits for him in his room. When Paul arrives, he is reluctant to talk about his affair with the strange woman. However, with Babbitt's encouragement, he opens up. He reveals that he is fed up with Zilla's attitude and finds life with her unbearable. On his trips to Chicago, he developed friendship with May Arnold, a widow.

Paul reveals he is drinking heavily and very unhappy. Babbitt tries to cheer up his friend. When he gets back to his room, he cries for his friend.

A few days later, Babbitt is back in Zenith and he runs into Zilla. She tells him she suspects Paul is having an affair with another woman. Babbitt chides her and advises her to be understanding with Paul. After Paul returns back to Zenith, he meets Babbitt. He tells Babbitt Zilla has improved in her behavior towards him, but he has no more affection for her.


Notes

In this chapter, Babbitt plays the role of a good friend. When he finds Paul sharing a drink with a woman in a Chicago restaurant, he suspects his friend of having an extra-marital affair with the woman. He decides to speak to Paul about it. With slow persuasion and friendly banter, he makes Paul confess his affair. Like an understanding friend, he sympathizes with the plight of Paul and tries to cheer him up. Back home in Zenith, he makes a visit to Zilla and makes her understand Paul's state of mind. He prepares her to receive Paul with consideration and improve her behavior towards her husband.

This chapter is most significant in that it foreshadows the turn of events in the next few chapters. Paul's inability to establish a rapport with Zilla disturbs not only Babbitt but also the readers. Paul's happiness is at stake, and, as becomes clear, so is Babbitt's.

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