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Babette, Jack’s fourth wife, is described as the quintessential
loving mother and spouse. Slightly overweight, with a head full
of messy blond hair, Babette bakes cookies for the children, tells
her husband everything, and, in her free time, reads tabloids to
the blind and teaches a course on posture to the elderly. In her
apparent honesty and sincerity, Babette contrasts with Jack’s previous
wives, who were closed off and secretive. Jack takes great comfort
from Babette and the openness that characterizes their marriage.
Babette, however, has secretly been taking an experimental drug
called Dylar. When first Denise and then Jack confront her about
the pills, Babette completely denies any knowledge of it. Only after
Jack finds a pill and has it analyzed does Babette confess that
she has been sleeping with a doctor in exchange for Dylar, in the
hopes that the drug would relieve her own overwhelming fear of death.
The shift in Babette’s personality, from open and loving to evasive
and cynical, reflects the novel’s pervasive concern with the fluctuating
and unstable nature of identity.