Thursday, October 08, 2015

Notes on Babbitt

Here are the parts of Babbitt that warranted moving my finger across the screen to highlight them.

  • "He could, on ten hours' notice, appear before the board of aldermen or the state legislature and prove, absolutely, with figures all in rows and with precedents from Poland and New Zealand, that the street-car company loved the Public and yearned over its employees; that all its stock was owned by Widows and Orphans; and that whatever it desired to do would benefit property-owners by increasing rental values, and help the poor by lowering rents." (p. 25)
  • "He prepared to taste that most delicate of pleasures of the host: making fun of his guests in the relaxation of midnight." (p. 129)
  • "Babbitt was an average father. He was affectionate, bullying, opinionated, ignorant, and rather wistful. Like most parents, he enjoyed the game of waiting till the victim was clearly wrong, then virtuously pouncing." (p. 226)
  • "It was coming to him that perhaps all life as he knew it and vigorously practised it was futile; that heaven as portrayed by the Reverend Dr. John Jennison Drew was neither probably nor very interesting; that he hadn't much pleasure out of making money; that it was of doubtful worth to rear children merely that they might rear children who would rear children." (p. 273)
  • "Whatever the misery, he could not regain contentment with a world which, once doubted, became absurd." (p. 292)
  • "Thus it came to him merely to run away was folly, because he could never run away from himself." (p. 300)
  • "In matrimonial geography the distance between the first mute recognition of a break and the admission thereof is as great as the distance between the first naive faith and the first doubting." (p. 351)
  • "In both cases [metaphysics lectures and drinking in roadhouses] they're trying to get away from themselves--most everybody is, these days, I guess." (p. 359)
  • "They were large, resolute, big-jawed men, and they were all high lords in the land of Zenith--Dr. Dilling the surgeon, Charles McKelvey the contractor, and, most dismaying of all, the white-bearded Colonel Rutherford Snow, owner of the Advocate-Times. In their whelming presence Babbitt felt small and insignificant." (p. 371)
  • "He was not quite sure there was a Heaven to be attained, but Dr. John Jennison Drew said there was, and Babbitt was not going to take a chance." (p. 393)

The penultimate quote is included because of the use of the word "whelming," which answers Bianca's question in 10 Things I Hate About You, "Can you ever just be 'whelmed'?"

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