skip the i-GuideIllinois State UniversityAdmissions at ISUAcademics at ISUEvents at ISUMap of ISUISU A to Z ListingISU AccessibilityISU 150th Anniversary
Web Support Services's eStoryboard

Babbitt , 1922

(pagination from the Signet Classic edition)

"He had enormous and poetic admiration, though very little understanding, of all mechanical devices. They were his symbols fo truth and beauty. Regarding each new intricate mechanism metal lathe, two-jet carburetor, machine gun, oxyacetylene welder he learned one good realistic-sounding phrase, and used it over and over, with a delightful feeling of being technical and initiated." Ch. 6-I, p. 58.

"Being a man given to oratory and high principles, he enjoyed the sound of his own vocabulary and the warmth of his own virtue." Ch. 6-II, p. 61.

"Babbitt looked up irritably from the comic strips in the Evening Advocate. They composed his favorite literature and art, these illustrated chronicles in which Mr. Mutt hit Mr. Jeff with a rotten egg, and Mother corrected Father's vulgarisms by means of a rolling-pin. With the solemn face of a devotee, breathing heavily through his open mouth, he plodded nightly through every picture, and during the rite he detested interruptions. Furthermore, he felt that on the subject of Shakespeare he wasn't really an authority. Neither the Advocate-Times, the Evening Advocate, nor the Bulletin of the Zenith Chamber of Commerce had ever had an editorial on the matter, and until one of them had spoken he found it hard to form an original opinion." Ch. 6-III, p. 64.

"It was not known whether he enjoyed his sleeping-porch because of the fresh air or because it was the standard thing to have a sleeping-porch." Ch. 7-III, p. 80.

"'Rev. Mr. Monday, the Prophet of Punch, has shown that he is the world's greatest salesman of salvation, and that by efficient organization the overhead of spiritual regeneration may be kept down to an unprecedented rock-bottom basis. He has converted over two hundred thousand lost and priceless souls at an average cost of less than ten dollars a head.'" Ch. 7-IV, p. 83.

"'I hate your city. It has standardized all the beauty out of life. It is one big railroad station with all the people taking tickets for the best cemetaries.'" Ch. 7-V, p. 84.

"'No, what I fight in Zenith is the standardization of thought, and, of course, the traditions of competition. The real villains of the piece are the clean, kind, industrious Family Men who use every know brand of trickery and cruelty to insure the prosperity of their cubs. The worst thing about these fellows is that they're so good and, in their work at least, so intelligent. You can't hate them properly, and yet their standardized minds are the enemy.'" Ch. 7-V, p. 85.

"The men leaned back on their heels, put their hands in their trouser-pockets, and proclaimed their views with the booming profundity of a prosperous male repeated a thoroughly hackneyed statement about a matter of which he knows nothing whatever." Ch. 8-II, p. 95.

"The dinner was the best style of women's-magazine art, whereby the salad was served in hollowed apples, and everything but the invincible fried chicken resembled something else." Ch. 8-11, p. 97.

"For many minutes, for many hours, for a bleak eternity, he lay awake, shivering, reduced to primitive terro, comprehending that he had won freedom, and wondering what he could do with anything so unknown and so embarrassing as freedom." Ch. 9-II, p. 109.

"Which of them said which has never been determined, and does not matter, since they all had the same ideas and expressed them always with the same ponderous and brassy assurance. If it was not Babbitt who was delivering any given verdict, at least he was beaming on the chancellor who did deliver it." Ch. 10-III, p. 116.

"Men who had made five thousand, year before last, and ten thousand last year, were urging on nerve-yelping bodies and parched brains so that they might make twenty thousand this year; and the men who had broken down immediately after making their twenty thousand dollars were hustling to catch trains, to hustle through the vacations which the hustling doctors had ordered." Ch. 12-II, p. 128.

"The content of his theology was that there was a supreme being who had tried to make us perfect, but presumably had failed; that if one was a Good Man he would go to a place called Heaven Upon this theology he rarely pondered. The kernal of his practical religion was that it was respectable, and beneficial to one's business, to be seen going to services; that the church kept the Worst Elements from being still worse; and that the pastor's sermons, however dull they might seem at the time of takig, yet had a voodooistic power which 'did a fellow good kept him in touch with higher things.'" Ch. 16-III, p. 170.

"She did her work with the thoroughness of mind which reveres details and never quite understands them." Ch. 18-I, p. 182.

"It came to him merely to run away was folly, because he could never run away from himself." Ch. 25-IV, p. 242.

"They were newly rich contractors who, having bought houses, motors, hand-painted pictures, and gentlemanliness, were now buying a refined ready-made philosophy. It had been a tossup with them whether to buy New Thought, Christian Science, or a good standard high-church model of Episcopalianism." Ch. 30-IV, p. 285.

"He heard them whispering whispering The independence seeped out of him and he walked the streets alone, afraid of men's cynical eyes and the incessant hiss of whispering." Ch. 32-V, p. 303

.

"All of them perceived that American Democracy did not imply any equality of wealth, but did demand a wholesome sameness of thought, dress, painting, morals, and vocabulary." Ch. 34-I, p. 311.

"He was worried lest during his late discontent he had imperiled his salvation. He was not quite sure there was a Heaven to be attained, but Dr. John Jennison said there was, and Babbitt was not going to take a chance." Ch. 34-II, p.313.