Review On Babylon Revisited Story
In life, one must realize that it is impossible to be perfect, and so there are always going to be things that one will regret. Modernist author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his short story, “Babylon Revisited”, tells the story of a man who has made many mistakes in his life and is living with these regrets and trying desperately to bring his life back together. Specifically, this is the story about the main character, Charlie. He a thirty five years old American, who used to live in Paris, now come back Paris to regain the custody of his daughter after recovering from the death of his wife and his own battle with alcoholism. However, as he pays for his mistake in the past, he has to face up to the barriers, preventing him from achieving his goal, which are the suffering from the death of his wife and fighting again alcoholism, the Marions prejudices, the harassment of his old drunk friends.
The first barrier effects to Charlies achieving goal that Charlie is suffering from the death of his wife and fighting again alcoholism. He falls apart for several years as in his thought “I spoiled this city for myself. I didn’t realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone, and everything was gone, and I was gone”. Therefore, he loses the custody of his daughter, Honoria, to Marion. In order to get Honoria back, he must show that he is now different. Therefore, he tries to limit himself only one drink a day in the afternoon, he is fighting against the urge to drink because of his daughter. For instance when Lincoln invite him a cocktail he said: “I take only one drink every afternoon, and I’ve had that.” However, that was not an easy fight as he has a serious problem with alcohol. The first thing Charlie does when revisit Paris is come to the familiar bar, The Ritz. The Ritz bar appears in very beginning and in the end of story is a proof of how the bar has the close relative to Charlie and how serious the Charlies alcoholic problem is. Even though Charlie loses his daughter again in the end, in the future, Charlie can overcome this obstacle. It can be predicted when Charlie refuses to refill the drink in the end of story and keep hoping some day he can win his daughter back as in he would come back some day; they couldn’t make him pay forever. But he wanted his child, and nothing was much good now, beside that fact. He wasn’t young any more, with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have by himself. He was absolutely sure Helen wouldn’t have wanted him to be so alone.
The second barrier to Charlies achieving goal that is Marion always assumes that the death of her sister is all because of Charlie. Marion Peters is Charlies sister-in-law. She is taking care of Honoria and loves her as much as the other family members. Marion, at first, appears as a nice woman. She protects and care for Honoria as she is one of her child, and she afraid that Charlie still an alcoholic and cannot take care for his daughter. So when Charlie comes back to Paris for the custody of Honoria, Marion is firmly against Charlies will. For instance, she gives Charlie a hard time for running to the Ritz bar first thing when he got to Paris, and she makes it in a subtle enough way: “I should think you’d have had enough of bars”. However, she is seemed like stand up because of her hatred toward Charlie than her good motivations. Marion always assumes that the death of her sister is all because of Charlie, as he locked Helen out of the house during a snowstorm. Although there is no real medical connection between the snow incident and Helens heart attack, Marion still connects the two events in her mind because they occurred about the same time, and unjustifiably holds Charlie responsible for the death of his wife. Because Marion sees her dead sister as a martyr, she sees Charlie as the villain; the possibility that Helen could have played an active part in the breakup of their marriage.
The third barrier that Charlie has to face up to achieve his goal is his old drunk friends come and harass the Marions family. Marion, the sister in-law was ready to give Honoria back to the father until the appearance of Duncan and Lorraine. Duncan and Lorraine were ghosts from the past. It is always difficult to forgive and forget the past especially when death is involved. It is the natural instinct of Man to find someone to blame for death. Marion already considers Charlie responsible for her sister’s death. The appearance of Loraine and Loraine’s reference to Charlie’s former state when she said “I remember once when you hammered on my door at four A.M I was good enough sport to give you a drink” is completely shocked Marion. That incident it was difficult for her to trust Charlie. It confirmed Marion’s earlier statement that her sister had died because of Charlie’s ill treatment. All he had done when he came back to Paris the second time were forgotten in that split second. The appearance of Lorraine and Duncan are reminders of the things he has to get completely rid of before he can get back custody of his daughter. If Charlie comes back at the end of six month’s still sober and not hanging around with his old friends. Marion will give him back his daughter satisfied that she is not betraying her sister’s trust in her.
In conclusion, at the end of the story, Charlie is sitting in a bar with a empty glass in front of him, he has refused to drink, but if he continues to sit in bars as he used to, he will not refuse refills forever. He wants his child, but he had a struggle between his past that he must win to achieve his goal. Thought to be custody his daughter always inspire in him, keeping him from getting what he wants.
Main Theme of Babylon Revisited
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the story . He was a successful author during the Great Depression and the Stock Market Crash, managing to make 40,000 plus a year. In 1939 his reputation and income went downhill and eventually in 1940, he died. He lived a life much like the characters he wrote about, especially that of Charlie Wales. In this story there is a man named Charlie Wales that has come to regain the custody of his daughter Honoria, and the big question is should he get it?
In most cases, there is rarely a time when a man wants to take full responsibility for his actions, especially when it comes to children. Charlie Wales is a man that has turned away from his God given privilege to be a father. After realizing what he has done, he makes a change in his life and wants to come back and take care of his daughter. I believe even though Charlie Wales lived an unpredictable lifestyle at one point, he should still be able to raise his daughter.
Despite what some may believe, being the biological parent of a child has a lot of value. Charlie Wales realized that his life wouldnt be complete without his daughter. He didnt want to miss out on her childhood, which is the most influential part of a persons life. Honoria wants to live with her father and cant wait for the day when she will be able to. As she says, Daddy, I want to come and live with you I love you better than anybody. And you love me better than anybody, dont you?(1871). I dont think it would be right to take away the only immediate family that Honoria has left. Everyone should have a sense of family and be able to interact with their immediate family.
Charlie has removed himself from Babylon and become more of a real man. He has become more responsible, and now he is trying to prove himself to everyone around him that he is worthy of this duty. The first sign of this was giving up custody of Honoria because he knew that he could do nothing for her while he was in a sanitarium. Once he was out of the sanitarium, he realized that he had a drinking problem, so he decided to cut the drinking to one drink per day. Charlie finally materialized the value of a dollar and realized investments in stock werent stable, so he started a business in Prague to make stable money. He even went to the extent of having his sister come live with him to help take care of Honoria. Making all of these changes in his life is shows that he is becoming a more positive person.
The major obstacle in the way of Charlie receiving custody of Honoria is Marion and Lincoln Peters. Marion Peters is the sister of Helen Wales, Charlies deceased wife. Helen is holding a grudge against Charlie and blames Charlie for Helens death as she loathes Frankly, from the night you did that terrible thing you havent really existed for me (1873). Charlie is practically in court in the Peters household. After some persuasion and coaxing, Marion could see that Charlie was quite sincere in his actions and decided he should get custody of Honoria.
He removed himself from his past, mainly Lorraine Quarrles and Duncan Schaeffer.
Responsibility is an essential component of parenting. Dependability shows the maturity and growth that Charlie illustrated after the death of his wife, Helen. Charlie should have custody of Honoria, primarily, because he is her biological father, not to mention Honoria would be delighted to live with her father whom she hasnt seen in over ten months. Please dont take Honoria away from her father.
Babylon Revisited by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Character Analysis
In the story “Babylon Revisited” the main discussion is about Charlie, who is giving his best effort to bring his daughter Honoria to the city where he is currently living – Prague. During this hard process, it seems that Charlie is doing all the things right and the only reason why he is not getting his daughter back at the end of this short story seems to be the fact he gets unlucky at the end when his old ‘drinking buddies’ come to Marion’s house. When I first read the story, I fall into the same ‘trap’. I did not pay close attention to the little details who shaped the result of the story. These little details are really important and, in my opinion, it is crucial to understand them on the right way and recognize the bigger picture they are making through the flow of the story. One drink that Charlie is drinking every day and the letter he left at the bar for Mr. Duncan definitely represent the two most important details which mold the end of this short, modernist story. One of the key words that has to be considered is temptation and in what extent we are able to control them. Temptation is providing that one drink per day and the promise that Charlie will stop there. Also, temptation is hiding behind the letter that Charlie leaves for Mr. Duncan. Although Charlie is importing a lot of effort to create order in his life, temptation is standing between him and the wish to live with his daughter in Prague. A little sparkle of past experience can cause any person to come back to his old habits and this forms a bigger picture where temptation is playing the main role between wrong old habits and the hope for better future.
Firstly, let’s discuss what kind of order Charlie is trying to gain back into his life and why is that so important to him. Charlie was a successful businessman back in the days, but he lost a lot of his fortune during the stock market crash in 1929. However, he moves to Prague and manages to earn dissent amount of money. Therefore, we can say that he restores the life he used to have before the stock market crash and that he returns to his old lifestyle of spending money easily and without stress. Charlie highlighted, “My income last year was bigger than it was when I had money” (677). In this way, our main character restores the order in his life. It feels good to have money again, but he is also trying to accomplish something more important – to get his daughter back. With decent amount of money in his pocket, along with ‘controlling’ bad old habits, he is now feeling that he is ready to get the custody for Honoria. He feels that he is missing something in his life and Honoria is that missing part which will fulfill the ‘hole’. Family is considered to be the most sacred thing in the life of every individual and it represents the priority. Therefore, family is ranked as a number one priority in the human eyes. However, Charlie is missing that order in life because he does not have his family around. It is perfectly normal for the middle-age man like him to think about family because this is probably the last moment for him to try to get his daughter back. In a few years, it will be too late because he will be too old to take proper care of his daughter.
Secondly, Charlie’s bad habits and his old lifestyle created the main obstacle for him to get Honoria back. I can say that the main conflict in this story is Charlie against himself. If it is true that you are what you repeatedly do, then Charlie used to be an alcoholic and his lifestyle was uncurbed. It is hard for him to prove that he changed his habits and that he is a new man. It is tough to believe him because he is still dragging some of the ‘tails’ from the previous, licentious, life – one drink per day and the fact he is keeping in touch with his ‘drinking buddies’. Talking about Marion, Charlie mentioned, “… I think she can have entire confidence in me. I had a good record up to three years ago. Of course, it’s within human possibilities I might go wrong any time. But if we wait much longer I’ll lose Honoria’s childhood and my chance for a home” (683). His personality shows some signs of weaknesses and a tendency to flirt with old vices. Although there is a sense that he really changed over time, these tails represent uncertainty for the people who can decide whether or not Honoria can go back with him to Prague, and in this case that is Marion. She has questions like, “How long are you going to stay sober, Charlie? (682)”. She is not sure if Charlie really changed because the only thing she sees are the tails from the past.
Thirdly, Charlie has continuous temptation which can lead towards old habit of drinking. Take an example of smoking. If a person who used to smoke a lot before now taking one cigarette per day, is he really in control of the situation? That one cigarette is like a trigger which can be pulled any time, like a time bomb. The same thing can be applied for alcoholism and that one drink Charlie is taking every day. Charlie is trying to explain this to Marion, “As I told you, I haven’t had more than a drink a day for over a year, and I take that drink deliberately, so that the idea of alcohol won’t get too big in my imagination. You see the idea?” (682). He is fooling himself that he is in the control, or it is better to say that he is in the control only at some extent. Temptation is dictating the tempo of the game. Especially at the end of the story where Charlie is definitely not coming back with his daughter to Prague, temptation can rise to its peak, probably forcing our main character to go back to his old habits. It is in human nature to do so, even Oscar Wilde once noticed, “I can resist everything except temptation.” Therefore, the only successful way of destroying the temptation is to completely stop with any type of vice before it is too late.
Finally, the division between the honest desire to change and an individual’s ability to do so is the main concern in the flow of “Babylon Revisited”. As I mentioned before, temptation is dictating the tempo and the pace of the story and it is illusion that Charlie is in the control. The only right way to deal with vices is to completely cut any connection with them, and Charlie fails to apply this rule. Better future cannot be built on the foundations of old vices.
Babylon Revisited and the Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber: Short Happy Dreams and Short Happy Life
The Short Happy Dreams of Wales and Macomber
America: the Land of Opportunity, or so it was. Of Individualism, certainly, and perhaps more so of Materialism as of late, but of Opportunity? One wonders. Misery? Maybe not now, but when we consider the unemployment rate and the state of American politics today, it might come to that. What happened to the American Dream? What happened to the idea that one could be whoever he or she wants to be? Some are lucky to be somebody at all or to have a job or a role in society.
Maybe that’s why old stories like “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemmingway are more relevant than ever now, because we can relate to them. These stories are about two regular people who are trying to achieve their dreams, just like any other person living in America. “Regular” might be a stretch, considering both characters’ obvious wealth, but wealth isn’t an issue for Charlie Wales or Francis Macomber. Their issues are more personal than money or success; their American Dreams are not to be rich, but to be happy, and through two wonderfully written novelettes Fitzgerald and Hemmingway respectively bring their characters within inches of achieving their dreams, only to have them snapped away again.
Charlie Wales simply wants one thing: to be with his family again. It’s unclear exactly what Charlie’s job is; all he says is, “I’m in business in Prague, representing a couple of concerns there” (Fitzgerald, 602). It appears he is some kind of businessman, and he has made a lot of money. He wants to visit his sister and her family in Paris, as well as the various locations he frequented in his past visits, like the bar in which he finds himself at the beginning and end of the story. His daughter is part of his sister’s family now, given to them because of unfit fatherhood on Charlie’s part due in part to the inadvertent killing of his wife, Helen, or so her sister, Marion, believes. But at that point in the story, he has reformed his old ways. “‘Things have… changed radically with me, and I want to ask you to reconsider the matter’” (610), he says to Marion when finally asking her to allow Honoria, his daughter, to live with him again. He’s ready to settle down and live a calm, safe life, and he wants to show Marion how much he’s changed over the years. He wants to convince her that his daughter would be well off under in his care, and it’s clear that his Honoria would prefer to live with him instead of her aunt and Uncle Lincoln in Paris: “‘Daddy, I want to come and live with you’” (609), she states very bluntly. Charlie has all the money he could want, but that’s not important to him. Only being with his daughter again would fulfill his dreams now. Macomber, however, desires something else.
Francis Macomber, too, has enough money to keep his monetary needs satisfied. After all, not a lot of people during the Great Depression had enough money to go out and hunt in the African wild with an expensive guide. Rather, Francis is a nervous, shy, very nearly cowardly person. He’s afraid of his wife, afraid of sex: “[Francis] knew… about sex in books, many books, too many books” (Hemingway, 659). This quote implies that he is nervous about sex, which causes him to over prepare. The fear that is most spotlighted in this story is his fear of big game: “‘I bolted like a rabbit,’ Macomber said” (648), in reference to his experience with a lion. As a result of these fears, his wife, Margot, cheats on him with Robert Wilson, his guide: “‘I just went out to get a breath of air’” (660), a lie she uses when Francis questions her previous whereabouts. Robert Wilson also belittles both him and his wife: “If a four letter man [Francis] marries a five letter woman [Margot], he was thinking, what number of letters would their children be?” (666). Francis wishes to be the person whom he believes his wife will love, who won’t be looked down upon by the likes of Robert Wilson. Ultimately, he wants his claim to manliness, to high stature, and to a certain extent, idolism.
The chief difference between these two characters is that Charlie Wales wants to settle down, to be tamed and to keep someone safe, but Francis Macomber wants to gather up the courage to become just the opposite. Charlie wants a safe, happy life with his daughter to take care of, while Francis wants an untamed life, a fearless life, to be uncontrolled by all, not even his wife, who only stays because she can control him. But what will they do?
It seems that Francis hasn’t really discovered he has a problem until he goes to Africa. When he gets there, he faces a lion that causes him intense fear and sets in motion these events which cause him to realize that he may be inadequate, and he foils the opinions and intentions of both Wilson and Margot by going out on one more hunt, this time for buffalo, in an attempt to prove his worth. Charlie, after coming up with all the reasons he can to convince Marion, travels to Paris to confer with her on the subject of returning Honoria to America, where she will indeed be well off despite the news of a stock market crash (the story takes place during the Great Depression). She will be in a happy place, never in danger of living in poverty and always with someone she loves, clearly more than Marion and Lincoln. Both Francis’ and Charlie’s efforts, unfortunately, turn only into failures.
Both of these dreams almost seem to come true at the second-to-last minute of each story, but they are both taken away at the last one. Charlie’s attempt to finally convince Marion, who is very nearly ready to allow Honoria to go back to America, ends badly as two characters introduced earlier in the story show up without warning. Honoria has even been told she is going with her father, but Lorraine and Duncan Quarrles, old friends of Charlie’s, come to the apartment uninvited. Charlie manages to force them out of the room, but not before Marion, handling the situation difficultly, has completely changed her mind about her fragile decision to allow Honoria to leave, thus crushing the Dream of Charlie. And Francis does not fare better. He finally shows Robert Wilson and Margot how much better he has come for defeating the buffalo and redeeming himself. He feels elation and excitement as he triumphs, but as he stood to kill the final injured buffalo as it charges at him, his wife, who has grabbed a gun from the car, shoots and hits Francis in the back of his head and kills him. Whether or not this was a purposeful act is a mystery and the subject of another, much longer literary analysis. Nevertheless, he dies happy and brave, the very thing he sought to become; he just doesn’t get to keep the life he tasted at the bitter end.
In the end, Charlie Wales and Francis Macomber both achieved the American Dream they sought after, but just briefly as they are taken away in the end. What we learn is that the American Dream is a fragile thing; as we read these stories, we can sympathize with the characters whose dreams have been taken away, either by gunshots or traumatic visits from long-lost friends. We learn that our dreams do not always come true, though the truth be unfortunate. However, the American Dream is not forgotten; it lives on in stories like “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway. They give us hope, not just for the characters, but for ourselves as well, that maybe our dreams will fare better than theirs.
Babylon Revisited: Life after Jazz
Never has the world experienced a time period in which the culture is so dramatically altered in such a short amount of time as demonstrated in the 1920’s. This time period is often referred to as the “Roaring Twenties” or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s coined phrase, “The Jazz Age,” and brought society into a new era of a booming economy, a changing taste in music, and wild parties fueled by alcohol. The Jazz Age marks a time in which people saw a greater enjoyment in life and fewer responsibilities. The new prohibition act which made the selling of alcoholic beverages illegal, revolutionized the bar scene in America. Prior to the Jazz Age, the bar was reserved for men to just get drunk. After prohibition went into effect, speakeasies were established to secretly sell alcohol to patrons. This made for going into a bar more of a social gathering that focused on entertainment with music and dancing for both genders. However, like most things in life, all “good things” must come to an end. By the end of the twenties, the stock market crashed putting millions out of a job, thus ending the Jazz Age. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited” examines the character Charlie to symbolize many individuals coping with life after the Jazz age, as well as, using Charlie to parallel his life.
Charlie Wales in “Babylon Revisited” directly symbolizes countless individuals who struggle with life after the wild twenties. Charlie is an American that returned to Paris in an attempt to get custody of his daughter. While in Paris Charlie sees every bar and street corner as flashbacks of his old reckless habits. He can envision continuously wasting money on alcohol and fine dining and begins to come to terms with his spending habits of the past when he eats at a cheap restaurant for the first time. Charlie cannot shake the constant memories of his past and feels as though he “spoiled the city” for himself because he can no longer see Paris without being haunted by his former self (Fitzgerald 700). This type of behavior is very common among individuals that lived in this time period. In the twenties, people were able to spend a large amount of money without any repercussions. After the stock market fell, people were no longer able to sustain the life they had been accustomed to which led to an extreme decrease in happiness. Charlie, like many other people after the 1920’s, also had to adapt to life after the abuse of alcohol. He now sticks to a one drink a day limit which he says is better than totally abandoning alcohol. During the roaring twenties, alcohol was a part of everyday life in society. It had become the social norm to men and women to drink for entertainment in speakeasies, and for the first time in history, bartenders were able to create their own drinks to attract customers to their speakeasies. Even though speakeasies were illegal during the prohibition, they revolutionized the market of entertainment.
“Babylon Revisited” can also be seen as a parallel to the life Scott Fitzgerald lived in this time period. According to Kelly J. Mays, Fitzgerald seemed to overextend himself during the twenties by purchasing an estate costing around $113,000 which was “saturated in alcohol” (Mays 691). This new American notion of overspending seized to a halt in four years after Fitzgerald found himself in debt and writing stories just to get by after the collapse of the stock market. Like Charlie, Fitzgerald also found himself in a custody battle with his disapproving sister-in-law after his wife suffered a series of nervous breakdowns. This newfound hardship could have been Charlie and Fitzgerald’s payback for the ways of life they lived in the twenties by constantly drinking and doing various activities that went against their previous morals. There are many similarities between the life story of Fitzgerald and “Babylon Revisited” and perhaps this was Fitzgerald’s way of achieving peace about the way he lived his life in the twenties.
The twenties were also a time were young adults also received more freedom in the form of an automobile. According to Fitzgerald in his “Echoes of the Jazz Age”, young boys could now achieve privacy by driving away from parental supervision. This sparked a time in which the new social norm was that a teenager would be able to explore the opposite sex while not being married. This led to the notion that people would live for pleasure rather than by the former morals that were present. When the twenties ended, Fitzgerald explained that “we will never feel quite so intensely about our surroundings any more” which meant the way people felt back then can never be replicated (Fitzgerald 715).
Charlie Wales symbolized the common well-off man after the twenties. He was changing his values and essentially haunted by his past. He tried just about everything in his power to right his wrongs of the previous decade by having more self-control and trying to become a better man. While the twenties were a time for lower morals and wild parties, it was also a time for equal rights for women, saw an increase in entertainment, and allowed for people to enjoy themselves which is an essential element of life. Scott Fitzgerald and Charlie Wales seemed to live the same life in a number of ways, and perhaps “Babylon Revisited” was a way for Scott Fitzgerald to cope with life after the twenties much as Charlie needed ways to cope. Scott Fitzgerald overextended himself like many people of the time period, and Charlie Wales has flashbacks of spending a large sum of money on alcohol and other non-necessities. If the two characters could go back a decade and change their ways, the audience can speculate that neither characters would change a thing due frankly to the amount of fun they had. In life however, there appears to be peaks and valleys filled with good times and bad. While the Jazz Age was definitely a peak for both characters, the valley that followed, will never be able to recover completely.