Symbolism And Mass Consumption On The American Society Essay

Symbolism And Mass Consumption On The American Society Essay

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Jake and Babbitt both crave the “authentic American” lifestyle, but this means different things to each of them. Initially, Babbitt vies for a rise in his social status and to live the lifestyle of the wealthy by acquiring material things and luxury items. The extravagant design and objects of Babbitt’s residence, Floral Heights, depicts how he views himself as an important figure. His bathrooms contain glazed tile and an enormous bathtub, his furniture is mahogany, and the bedrooms are masterpieces. Even his alarm clock has prestige and the most modern attachments. Lewis states that Babbitt “was proud of being awakened by such a rich device” (Lewis 3). Clearly, materialism and mass consumption played a significant role in his life and how he viewed himself as successful. The same could be said for American society at the time, when the rise of mass consumption and possession of products like cars or radios became the benchmark for success in society. However, Babbitt didn’t feel completely happy or satisfied with his life. While his house presented luxurious taste and modern conveniences, “there was but one thing wrong with the Babbitt house: It was not a home” (12). Although it seemed like he had everything, Babbitt actually feels dissatisfied with his life and has no purpose in life. As a real estate agent, all he does is sell homes for more than people can afford to pay in order to make as much money as possible. He then attempts to rebel against social contentions (find example), but after his best friend Paul Riesling shoots his wife and is sentenced to jail, Babbitt’s life starts to fall apart. He drinks more, has an affair, and alienates his friends. Although he tried to change his ways to bring more purpose to his life, t...

... middle of paper ... has to do this, essentially saying that he has failed as a man to provide a decent living for himself and those he cares about. Similarly, Babbitt’s affair results from his failure, but in his case, it’s his failure to find happiness in his life. While Babbitt had faced turmoil for quite some time, once Paul gets thrown in jail, he begins flirting with younger women and has an affair. He felt sick and tired of his wife and thought that mixing things up might bring him more happiness. However, when he notices the pain he’s brought upon his wife and learns that she falls ill with appendicitis, he regrets his decisions and wants to care for her again. Unlike Babbitt, Jake continued to mistreat his wife and ended up divorcing her and marrying Mamie. The failures of Jake and Babbitt to be proper men led them to breaking their loyalty to their wives and having affairs.

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