Setting in Babbitt
Zenith: The novel is set in the fictional city of Zenith, Winnemac. Sinclair Lewis conceptualized the state of Winnemac as a combination of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Its name is a portmanteau of Native American placenames. Lewis’s aim with Winnemac was to invent a quintessential state, one which typified all of American culture as he saw it.
Sinclair Lewis's Other Works: From Babbitt onward, Winnemac served as the landscape for Lewis’s literary project, with most of his major novels set there. The largest city in Winnemac is Zenith. “Zenith” is an example of an aptronym, a name that is particularly suited to its object. The word literally refers to the highest of possible heights and metaphorically suggests supreme excellence and achievement. With Zenith, Lewis attempted to ridicule the American obsession with wealth, growth, and achievement. This characterization is made clear in the novel’s opening sentence: “The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods. They were neither citadels nor churches, but frankly and beautifully office-buildings.” Zenith exemplifies literal and figurative heights: towering buildings and equally towering economic ambitions.
Setting Examples in Babbitt:
"They were neither citadels nor churches, but frankly and beautifully office-buildings...." See in text (Chapter I)