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MonkeyNotes-Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
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Chapter 34

After Babbitt becomes a member of the Good Citizen's League, its popularity skyrockets among the business and upper classes. It lures the business class but keeps away the socialists. Babbitt voices the views of the club actively and earns the approval of its members. His business picks up once again. He attends church and clubs as before. Verona and Kenneth Escheat get married. Tinka has grown into a charming young girl. Only Ted causes some anxiety. He gets married to Eunice secretly, to the dismay of both families.

Babbitt goes to his son in private and vows his support of Ted's unorthodox behavior. He repeats his earlier belief that Ted should go to college for appearance' sake, but also tells his son to follow his own dreams. He tells Ted the greatest mistake he ever made was following conventional roles and ideas. He tells him he learned his lesson too late.


Notes

The close of the story is key to understanding the novel. Babbitt regains his place in society by accepting the constraints of convention and tradition. The very things that once bored and suffocated him are now a part of his life to which he is resigned, however happily. He realizes that he is too old and too established to change the course he chose long ago. In the struggle he has had all along with his son Ted, the thematic importance of the story is clear. Choose your future carefully, without regard to convention. If you make the wrong choice, it will be too late to change it.

This ending is ironic at best. Babbitt is resigned to the same loveless marriage of habit. He is still the same real-estate agent. His family remains basically unchanged. But this life is a part of him. He will not fight it any longer.

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