Babbitt By Sinclair Lewis Chapters 6-7

He snatched from the back of his geometry half a hundred advertisements of those home-study courses which the energy and foresight of American commerce have contributed to the science of education. The first displayed the portrait of a young man with a pure brow, an iron jaw, silk socks, and hair like patent leather. Standing with one hand in his trousers-pocket and the other extended with chiding forefinger, he was bewitching an audience of men with gray beards, paunches, bald heads, and every other sign of wisdom and prosperity. Above the picture was an inspiring educational symbol — no antiquated lamp or torch or owl of Minerva, but a row of dollar signs. The text ran:


$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ POWER AND PROSPERITY IN PUBLIC SPEAKING

A Yarn Told at the Club

Who do you think I ran into the other evening at the De Luxe Restaurant? Why, old Freddy Durkee, that used to be a dead or-alive shipping clerk in my old place — Mr. Mouse-Man we used to laughingly call the dear fellow. One time he was so timid he was plumb scared of the Super, and never got credit for the dandy work he did. Him at the De Luxe! And if he wasn't ordering a tony feed with all the "fixings" from celery to nuts! And instead of being embarrassed by the waiters, like he used to be at the little dump where we lunched in Old Lang Syne, he was bossing them around like he was a millionaire!

I cautiously asked him what he was doing. Freddy laughed and said, "Say, old chum, I guess you're wondering what's come over me. You'll be glad to know I'm now Assistant Super at the old shop, and right on the High Road to Prosperity and Domination, and I look forward with confidence to a twelve-cylinder car, and the wife is making things hum in the best society and the kiddies getting a first-class education."

WHAT WE TEACH YOU

How to address your lodge.

How to give toasts.

How to tell dialect stories.

How to propose to a lady.

How to entertain banquets.

How to make convincing selling-talks.

How to build big vocabulary.

How to create a strong personality.

How to become a rational, powerful and original thinker.

How to be a MASTER MAN!

PROF. W. F. PEET

author of the Shortcut Course in Public-Speaking, is easily the foremost figure in practical literature, psychology & oratory. A graduate of some of our leading universities, lecturer, extensive traveler, author of books, poetry, etc., a man with the unique PERSONALITY OF THE MASTER MINDS, he is ready to give YOU all the secrets of his culture and hammering Force, in a few easy lessons that will not interfere with other occupations. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

"Here's how it happened. I ran across an ad of a course that claimed to teach people how to talk easily and on their feet, how to answer complaints, how to lay a proposition before the Boss, how to hit a bank for a loan, how to hold a big audience spellbound with wit, humor, anecdote, inspiration, etc. It was compiled by the Master Orator, Prof. Waldo F. Peet. I was skeptical, too, but I wrote (JUST ON A POSTCARD, with name and address) to the publisher for the lessons — sent On Trial, money back if you are not absolutely satisfied. There were eight simple lessons in plain language anybody could understand, and I studied them just a few hours a night, then started practising on the wife. Soon found I could talk right up to the Super and get due credit for all the good work I did. They began to appreciate me and advance me fast, and say, old doggo, what do you think they're paying me now? $6,500 per year! And say, I find I can keep a big audience fascinated, speaking on any topic. As a friend, old boy, I advise you to send for circular (no obligation) and valuable free Art Picture to: —

SHORTCUT EDUCATIONAL PUB. CO. Desk WA Sandpit, Iowa.

ARE YOU A 100 PERCENTER OR A 10 PERCENTER?"

Babbitt was again without a canon which would enable him to speak with authority. Nothing in motoring or real estate had indicated what a Solid Citizen and Regular Fellow ought to think about culture by mail. He began with hesitation:

"Well — sounds as if it covered the ground. It certainly is a fine thing to be able to orate. I've sometimes thought I had a little talent that way myself, and I know darn well that one reason why a fourflushing old back-number like Chan Mott can get away with it in real estate is just because he can make a good talk, even when he hasn't got a doggone thing to say! And it certainly is pretty cute the way they get out all these courses on various topics and subjects nowadays. I'll tell you, though: No need to blow in a lot of good money on this stuff when you can get a first-rate course in eloquence and English and all that right in your own school — and one of the biggest school buildings in the entire country!"

"That's so," said Mrs. Babbitt comfortably, while Ted complained:

"Yuh, but Dad, they just teach a lot of old junk that isn't any practical use — except the manual training and typewriting and basketball and dancing — and in these correspondence-courses, gee, you can get all kinds of stuff that would come in handy. Say, listen to this one:

'CAN YOU PLAY A MAN'S PART?

'If you are walking with your mother, sister or best girl and some one passes a slighting remark or uses improper language, won't you be ashamed if you can't take her part? Well, can you?

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At the end of the novel, Babbitt rotely endorses the notion that America's world-famous equality




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