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Babylon Revisited, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 423

Essay

As readers, are we supposed to be on Marion’s side, or on Charlie’s side? To what degree can we be sympathetic to Charlie? To Marion?

While Marion has good reason to be sympathetic to the reader, the primary impression is that Fitzgerald’s core of concern is with Charlie and Honoria.  Marion is in fact harsh and intolerant, but she is balanced as a character by the powerful fact that Helen was her sister and that, in her estimation, Charlie was responsible for her death.  As unrelenting as she is, the reader understands her disgust with Charlie: “Frankly, from the night you did that terrible thing you haven’t really existed for me…She was my sister” (Fitzgerald  15).  Nonetheless, and this humanizing aspect aside, Marion also represents a kind of injustice. She is unforgiving in spite of Charlie’s reclamation of himself.  He clearly lives with the reality of what happened to Helen, as he has transcended that past to comprehend what matters most; that Marion then seizes on the single unfortunate arrival of Charlie’s former friends weakens her as sympathetic, and consequently moves the reader to Charlie all the more.  In the final analysis, far more sympathy is attached to Charlie, not just because he repents, but because he is denied the opportunity to get his life and his daughter back.

At the end of the story, is Charlie optimistic? Is the author? Should the reader be?

If Charlie entertains any hope at the end, it is of a desperate kind.  He understands the reality of his sister-in-law’s power and outrage, but he tries to maintain some degree of optimism: “He would come back some day; they couldn’t make him pay forever” (24).  It is too thin to survive, basically, and this is the tragedy of the story.  Fitzgerald is not hopeful for Charlie because this is a past that will not be allowed to rest, and the author is saying that some sins, even those only horrible mistakes, live on and remorse changes nothing.  The reader wants badly to believe that Charlie’s efforts and caring will be rewarded, but the outlook is simply too bleak.  If forgiveness comes, it cannot make up for the misery Charlie feels at being separated from his daughter every day.  This is compounded by the irony of the final sentence, in that Helen would not have wished this on her husband; it is a fate he does not deserve, and this thought of Charlie’s reinforces the loneliness to come.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. S.  “Babylon Revisited”  Plainville: Burning Man Books, n/a.  PDF.  5-24.

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