George Babbitt Of Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt

1765 words - 7 pages

George Babbitt: Image of a Presbyterian

 
     In Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis portrays religion as a corrupt business.  In fact, he emphasizes this by focusing on his main character George Babbitt.  George Babbitt is characterized as a businessman in Zenith.  He is a man preoccupied about his reputation and his image before the main leaders of the town he lives in.  Lewis creates a hypocritical figure for Babbitt through his reasons for being a Presbyterian.  He says that if you were to question Babbitt about his religion he would say,  "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 for all"  (199).  Of course, if you heard this from Babbitt you would have the idea that Babbitt was a true Presbyterian.  Lewis says that if you were to persist with the same question Babbitt would then reply,  "I'm a member of the Presbyterian Church, and naturally, I accept its doctrines"  (199).  This would make Babbitt look even better.  Being from the Presbyterian Church, the richest church in Zenith, he would be a man well set with good morals.  However, Lewis points at G. Babbitt's true reasons for being in the Presbyterian Church.  He was really a Presbyterian for his reputation.  By participating in the services of the Presbyterian Church, Babbitt was able to hide his human flaws and give himself an image of a respectable man (Lewis 199).

 

            George Babbitt was asked by Dr. Drew to help improve the Sunday School at Zenith.  Lewis shows that Babbitt's acceptance to carry out this task was done to form a business relationship with Mr. Eathorne, the president of the First State Bank of Zenith.  "Nothing gave Babbitt more purification and publicity than his labors for the public school"  (Lewis 196).  Babbitt gained recognition from the members that made up the Sunday School Committee.  His participation within his religious denomination was his stepping stool.  Chum Frink and Mr.Eathorne accepted Babbitt because of his proposals for the Sunday School.  He wanted to divide the school into four armies with militaristic characteristics.  This would help the children feel as if they were doing something worthy.  Secondly, he insisted on improvement of the advertising committee (Lewis 207).  This goes to show you how businesslike the Sunday School was becoming.  Babbitt was only thinking of business morals and forgetting the religious morals.

 

            Lewis also draws an image of George Babbitt's sanctimoniousness through his idea of Hell.  We see Babbitt's hypocrisy when he says, "if one was a Bad Man, that is, if he murdered or committed burglary or used cocaine or had mistresses or sold non-existent real estate, he would be punished"  (199).  Notice how everything Babbitt mentions at the time is something he has not done, however as he continues to live his life he eventually pulls a crooked real estate deal and...

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