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“Babylon Revisited” is one of the best stories written by Francis Scott Fitzgerald that describes the life situation of a man who “lost everything during the boom”. The story is narrated in tragic tones. The main hero tells that he was aware of the misfortune that was going to happen. He mentions that not only circumstances or society should be blamed, but also his behavior and character., Although the main character of the story loses hope for happiness, he regains human dignity. Moreover, he becomes able to distinguish true values from false.
Through the description of the miserable life of the main character, who has no close people around, the author demonstrates sadness of the whole story. It was caused by the realization of loss of life, loss of youth, and loss of a beloved person. The main character, Charlie, lost his wife who died of tuberculosis. Due to his increasing sense of guilt, Charlie becomes involved in a dizzying whirl of life. Leading a promiscuous and drunk life hastened his wife’s death. In his painful solitude, Charlie is drawn to the only close essence, his daughter. However, his sister-in-law’s family did not trust him. That is why he becomes parted with his daughter, and his sister-in-law intends to deprive him of parental rights.
The relations between Charlie and his daughter are disclosed in their mutual desire to live together. At the same time, they are conscious of inability to break through the wall of hostility and mistrust of their family. Charlie realizes that he has redeemed himself with misery and loneliness. Even his wife’s image, which had the right to reproach and insult him, would not wish such anguish and despair for the rest of his life. Creating a typical image of a representative of the “jazz age”, Fitzgerald shows how painful it can be to sober up after the mindless pursuit of fun and dubious joys.
The story “Babylon Revisited” is built around a child, but the image of this girl is secondary as it is the story of adults. The sad motifs of bygone years and lost opportunities sound throughout the story.
The past and the present are inseparable. The action takes place in the present, but finds explanation and justification of events that took place in the past. A serious social issue is embodied in the fates of individuals. The disclosure of the main theme of the story is inextricably linked with the idea of unity ofhuman life. The idea states that people cannot get away from the past and emphasizes the importance of attitudes. Therefore, there is an essential motive of distinguishing true and false values. Lost generation is the leading theme of the story. It is depicted from the perspective of time and presents the tragic results of indecent behavior. All this leads to the impossibility to change the present because of the past mistakes.
Charlie worked till the moment when lucky boom at the market made him a rich stock broker. Charlie replies to the Peters’ accusations by stating:
I’ve learned. I worked hard for ten years, you know – until I got lucky in the market, like so many people. Terribly lucky. It didn’t seem any use working anymore, so I quit. It won’t happen again (Fitzgerald 218).
He explains and tries to find an excuse for his bad behavior during his previous visit to Paris. Charlie and his wife, Helen, arrived in Paris and spent a lot of money there. However, drinking worsened their relations. One night, in a fit of drunken jealousy, Charlie did not let his wife into the house, leaving her on the snowy street. Unfortunately, Helen became ill. After that, her sister Marion felt hatred towards Charlie and blamed him for Helen’s death. Charlie said a phrase with a full realization of tragedy and sadness of the situation:
Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They are not like aches or wounds; they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there is not enough material (Fitzgerald 216.).
He agreed to the custody of Honoria, being in desperate circumstances. Now Charlie is different, because life gave him a painful but serious lesson. He will not let this situation happen to him again. The family is all he wants. Charlie desires to start a new life with his daughter who is the only member of his family. They need a chance to be happy together. Charlie’s financial position becomes stable again and he makes twice as much money as Lincoln Peters does. Charlie can provide his daughter with all the necessary conditions and start his life anew.
It is hard for Charlie to perceive Marion’s refusal to take care of his daughter. However, this is not only because the new separation from his daughter can lead to alienation between them, but also because he has really changed. He arrives in Paris to see his daaughter. Looking at the city, Charlie realizes the meaning of the words and significance of life. He thinks of life and time scattered to the wind that turns something into nothing.
Charlie reveals the true value of willingness to communicate. He has got a desire to understand his daughter much better, but the main thing for him is to be settled in life. Charlie established his individual code of life, and the essence of this code is connected with an attitude to money. Money has revealed its immoral side. Even at the moment of reconciliation, Marion says bitterly that Charlie can create a more comfortable environment for his daughter. The limited life position of the main character and moral failure of money are presented in a tragic tone at the end of the story: “He would come back some day; they couldn’t make him pay forever” (Fitzgerald 217). The necessity of paying back for his time living separately from the daughter is compared to money that he had spent in vain long time ago.
“Babylon Revisited” is one of the best short stories written by F.S. Fitzgerald. The author uses artistic means to adequately reproduce the complex issues in his story. He makes readers see the story through the perspective of the main characters and their psychological images.
In each action, move, word, and thought Charlie accurately reflects the quality of his new identity and psychological dynamics. Even the official images such as small Honoria, former co-drinkers that had spent nights with Charlie, Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarles, and bartenders have changed. It was a result of deep psychological analysis and identification of appropriate motivation.
There are several examples of such tendencies and one of them can be seen in the excerpt of the episode telling about the day that Charlie spent with his daughter. Every detail is remarkably expressive. Charlie really wants to get acquainted with the daughter, but their meeting appears to be quite unexpected. Features of child’s perception of the world are shown in how quickly Honoria becomes involved into play, in her relation to the doll.
The author uses conversation as a literary technique, a deep insight into the psychology of the characters, and skillful identification of cause-and-effect relationships. All this allowed Fitzgerald to deploy a special three-day episode in a broad, multifaceted, socially rich and very convincing picture.