Join us on Monday, October 18th to discuss The Guest List by Lucy Foley. We will meet outdoors, weather permitting, at 6:30pm. In the event of poor weather we will discuss the book virtually via Zoom at 7pm. Contact Elizabeth for details.
Babbitt by sinclair Lewis
On Thursday, November 10th, the Fixed on Fiction Book Group met to discuss, Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. Here are a few things we discussed during the meeting:
We started our discussion by asking everyone to give us their “thumbs vote” and their initial reaction to the book. Of the group who read the book, four gave it a thumbs up, one a so-so, and one a thumbs down. A few members did not read the book but were interested in what others thought. A new member read it 40 years ago when he was in Vietnam, enjoyed it but did not have anyone to discuss it with and was always interested in what others thought.
- We all agreed that George Babbitt still exist today. The theme and its satire still speak to the modern day human experience. And in that way, we found the novel to be contemporary.
- We thought the book captured upper middle class America in the 1920s with its depiction of routine life.
- We know the point of satire is to allow us to see how ridiculous we are, and we saw that in the passage when Babbitt was speaking about immigrant, “they aren’t all ignorant. I got a hunch we’re all descended from immigrants ourselves.”
- We found Babbitt to be a likeable character despite all of his flaws and felt for him when he tries to develop a rapport with Joe, the woodsmen who is his guide. At this point in the story Babbitt is considering abandoning his family and living alone in the woods. But when he asks Joe if he had a lot of money would he build a home in the woods and be independent, Joe replies he would open a shoe store in town. At that point Babbitt feels lonelier than ever.
- Some members had read other books by Sinclair Lewis and we talked about them for a while.
- There was a glimpse at Prohibition era America. Again the satire was prevalent when Babbitt and his friends decide that Prohibition is fine for the working classes, but it is an infringement on the personal liberty of men like themselves.
- A couple members thought that Sinclair overdid the slang making it incomprehensible at times. But we also understood that Sinclair probably meant it as a way to make the novel even sillier.
- We talked about Babbitt and Paul’s disappointed dreams. The theme of conformity is highlighted throughout the novel and even though Babbitt realizes what is happening, he is powerless to change his life.
- We saw some growth in Babbitt in the way that he accepted Ted’s marriage and his desire to quite college to become a mechanic.
- We talked about the fact that this book does not have a plot and it reminded some members of Seinfeld, a show about nothing, with many of its episodes also about everyday life.
These are just a few of the comments made during our meeting, please feel free to share additional thoughts on Babbitt in the comments section below.