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George F. Babbitt

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George F. Babbitt, a prosperous real-estate dealer in Zenith, a typical American city. He is the standardized product of modern American civilization, a member of the Boosters’ Club, hypnotized by all the slogans of success, enthralled by material possessions, envious of those who have more, patronizing towards those who have less, yet dimly aware that his life is unsatisfactory. His high moment comes when, after delivering a speech at a real-estate convention, he is asked to take part in a political campaign against Seneca Doane, a liberal lawyer who is running for mayor. As a result of his campaign efforts, Babbitt is elected vice-president of the Boosters. His self-satisfaction is shattered when his one real friend, Paul Riesling, shoots his nagging wife and is sent to prison. For the first time, Babbitt begins to doubt the values of American middle-class life. He has a love affair with a client, Mrs. Judique, and becomes involved with her somewhat bohemian friends; he publicly questions some of the tenets of Boosterism; he refuses to join the Good Citizens’ League. But the pressure of public opinion becomes too much for him; when his wife is taken ill, his brief revolt collapses, and he returns to the standardized world of the Boosters’ Club.

Myra Babbitt

Myra Babbitt, his colorless wife, whom he married because he could not bear to hurt her feelings. She lives only for him and the children.

Verona Babbitt

Verona Babbitt, their dumpy daughter. Just out of college, she is a timid intellectual whose mild unconventionality angers her father. He is relieved when she marries Kenneth Escott.

Theodore (Ted) Babbitt

Theodore (Ted) Babbitt, their son. A typical product of the American school system, he hates study and the thought of college. He elopes with Eunice Littlefield, thus winning his father’s secret admiration, for he has at least dared to do what he wanted.

Paul Riesling

Paul Riesling, Babbitt’s most intimate friend since college days. With the soul of a musician, he has been trapped into a lifetime of manufacturing tar-roofing, and he is burdened with a shrewish wife. Goaded to desperation, he shoots her; although she lives, he is sent to prison.

Zilla Riesling

Zilla Riesling, Paul’s nagging wife. With a vicious disposition that is made worse by having too much time on her hands, she finally prompts Paul to shoot her.

Mrs. Daniel “Tanis” Judique

Mrs. Daniel “Tanis” Judique, a widow with whom Babbitt has a brief affair as a part of his revolt against conventionality.

Seneca Doane

Seneca Doane, a liberal lawyer, the anathema of all the solid businessmen of Zenith.

William Washington Eathorne

William Washington Eathorne, a rich, conservative banker. He represents the real power in Zenith.

Charles McKelvey

Charles McKelvey and

Lucille McKelvey

Lucille McKelvey, wealthy members of Zenith’s smart set. The Babbitts are hopeful of being accepted socially by the McKelveys but do not succeed.

Ed Overbrook

Ed Overbrook and

Mrs. Overbrook

Mrs. Overbrook, a down-at-the-heels couple. They are hopeful of being accepted socially by the Babbitts but do not succeed.

The Reverend Dr. John Jennison Drew

The Reverend Dr. John Jennison Drew, the efficient, high-powered pastor of Babbitt’s church.

Vergil Gunch

Vergil Gunch, a successful coal dealer. He is prominent in all the civic organizations to which Babbitt belongs.

T. Cholmondeley “Chum” Frink

T. Cholmondeley “Chum” Frink, a member of Babbitt’s social group. He is a popular poet whose work is syndicated throughout the country.

Howard Littlefield

Howard Littlefield, Babbitt’s next-door neighbor. An economist for the Zenith Street Traction Company, he can prove to everyone’s satisfaction that Zenith is the best of all possible worlds.

Eunice Littlefield

Eunice Littlefield, his flapper daughter. She elopes with Ted Babbitt, to the public surprise and indignation of both...

(The entire section contains 3016 words.)

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Critical Essays