The theme in books by Sinclair Lewis1 relates to the time in which they were written. In both Babbit (1922) and Main Street (1920) Lewis shows us the American culture of the 1920's. He writes about the growing cities, the small towns, the common American man, the strong American need to conform, cultural integration, morals (or lack of in some cases), and he touches upon the women lib movement. All of these and more successfully describe the 1920's.
"The parties were bigger... the pace was faster, the shows were bigger, the buildings were higher, the morals were looser..."2
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Lewis attacks the American middle class business man in Babbit. As Sheldon Grebstein once put it:
"They ( Lewis's characters ) become puppets rather than performers." ( S. Lewis, Amer. Author Series 68 )
He uses the ideas and attitudes already in existence and gives them a plot. He uses sarcasm to show the readers the error of their ways and then makes the main character suffer some how to show the consequences of being the way George F. Babbit is.
Americans felt a need to rise in social status in the 1920's. Things like art and religion did not even make it in the maybe pile. Money and social acceptance was number one in every household.
"His ( Americans ) only way to assume protective coloration, to loose himself in the crowd, and then to be approved by one of its members." ( S. Lewis, Amer. Author Series 78 )
George F. Babbit. A forty-six, middle class, overweight, suburban real estate dealer. To add to the mix he is a father
and a husband. Babbit is Lewis's picture of the middle class businessman. H.L. Menekan states:
" The fellow simply drips with human juices... Every American city swarms with his brothers" ( 20th Cent. Views 20-21 )
Babbit , along with several others of his social status, belong to a club entitled the Athletes Club in which they prominently display their uniform narrow minded views with meaningless chatter. Like his business associates and colleagues, he values painstaking work in an effort to succeed. ...