UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shifting values in Sinclair Lewis Ellenor, Leslie


The purpose of this thesis is to examine two characteristics in the life and works of Sinclair Lewis: his ambivalence in general, and his particular unambivalent hostility towards religion. Although he held inconsistent and incompatible views on America, its people, institutions, and beliefs, he was consistent in his dislike of American religious practices. Chapter I examines Lewis's ambivalence respecting America and Americans, the Middle West, the Middle Class and Business; there is also an account of Lewis's persistent hostility towards religious beliefs, the clergy, and churchgoers. Chapter II examines aspects of the life and personality of Sinclair Lewis for some of the factors which contribute to his ambivalent views and also to his anti-religious outlook. Chapter III notes the timeliness of Lewis's novels, published in the Twenties when people were confused about their beliefs. Chapter III then analyses in detail four novels, Main Street, Arrowsmith, Elmer Gantry, and The God Seeker, which demonstrate how Lewis's attitudes change, except towards religion. Chapter IV studies the style of Sinclair Lewis, and notes that he constantly applies mocking or hostile terms to clergy and Christians, while on other subjects he expresses incompatible views with noisy assurance. Chapter IV also suggests that Lewis's ambivalence and his anti-religion both stem from a lack of profundity in his thought and feeling. He is unable to understand and appreciate fully the truths of American life and the truths of religion.

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