Are You a Conformist Babbitt or a Great Gatsby?

Finding balance between Babbitt’s mediocrity and Gatsby’s drive

George J. Ziogas
4 min readJun 13, 2024
© serikbaib / Adobe Stock

Both emerging from the unfettered capitalism of the roaring ’20s, two fictional characters define the archetypes of American business.

Conformist Babbitt bumbles through his life without the drive or instinct to be anything more than average. Great Gatsby reaches unheard of success from basically nothing, but his pursuit of greatness brings him ruin.

Are you the unremarkable Babbitt? Are you the rocketing Gatsby, soon to burn out? What can you learn from them?

Conformist Babbitt

Babbitt, from Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt, is an average businessman. He’s an average man. He’s the middle manager that will never move up, the entrepreneur that only ever scrapes by. He tells himself he’s content in his unremarkable life, with his unremarkable business, but doubts simmer just below the surface.

He doesn’t live a bad life, but Babbitt expected more. He had aspirations in law and politics, though he never understood why. Babbitt will never be content because he doesn’t understand what he wants.

Babbitt’s Fatal Flaw: Mindlessness

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George J. Ziogas

Vocational Education Teacher | HR Consultant | Personal Trainer | Manners will take you where money won't | ziogasjgeorge@gmail.com