Negative Views on Memory in “Babylon Revisited”

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s narrative “Babylon Revisited” and other works offered him a famous name in American literature. Fitzgerald was a popular figure during the “Roaring Twenties” because of both his published works and his marital relationship to an Alabama woman by the name of Zelda Sayre. His composing brought the couple fortune and fame, and papers saw them as the best example of what America was supposed to be like throughout this prosperous time. Nevertheless, despite their relatively happy and rich lifestyle, the Fitzgeralds’ marriage stopped working due to the well-known author’s alcohol addiction. Fitzgerald passed away from a cardiovascular disease in 1940, thirty years after his spouse’s psychological breakdown. Both his relationship with his spouse and his alcoholic nature gave him a negative view on the functions played by memory and the past. While numerous famous writers claim that memory is a gorgeous thing that brings cohesion and significance to people’s lives, Fitzgerald disagrees. He says that memories restore sadness and dealing with things that have occurred in the past can have a really undesirable effect on the human mind. It makes complex life by making it exceptionally difficult to proceed and begin over when a mistake has been made. Fitzgerald’s narratives are often melancholy in this respect. In his narrative “Babylon Revisited,” Fitzgerald shows his negative views of memory and the past by subjecting the protagonist, Charlie Wales, to an awakening of sobriety, harsh criticism, and finally, failure.

“Babylon Revisited” begins in the streets of Paris during the early 1930’s. Charlie, recently sober, has actually come back to the town where all of his wrongdoings in the previous took place, not to relive them, but to retrieve his child, Honoria, who is under the custody of Charlie’s bro and sister-in-law, Marion and Lincoln Peters. One day, Charlie takes his daughter to a vaudeville program and is required to engage with two old buddies. Fitzgerald states, “Abrupt ghosts out of the past: Duncan Schaeffer, a buddy from college. Lorraine Quarrles, a lovely, pale blonde of thirty; among a crowd who had actually helped them make months into days in the extravagant times of 3 years back” (2206 ). Charlie is surprised yet happy to see the two, and he gives them Marion and Lincoln’s address in hopes of catching up with them later on. However, as the discussion continues, Charlie recognizes that his friends are still the exact same people that they were three years back and that he has actually changed considerably. His awakening becomes clear when Fitzgerald says, “As constantly, he [Charlie] felt Lorraine’s passionate, intriguing tourist attraction, but his own rhythm was different now.” Charlie’s awakening of sobriety from his reckless past has left him with a feeling of awkwardness around his old pals. He is to unwillingly required to relive a memory from the past when Lorraine sends him a letter a couple of days later. Fitzgerald, in the words of Lorraine, states, “We did have such great times that crazy spring, like the night you and I took the butcher’s tricycle, and the time we attempted to contact the president and you had the old derby rim and wire cane. Everybody seems so old recently, but I do not feel old a bit” (2212 ). Charlie’s recollections of these acts, which Lorraine describes as “great times,” are no longer excellent to him. In fact, Charlie sees his past as a headache– a headache that he can’t appear to flee from.

Throughout the story, Charlie is being criticized constantly about the habits he showed before his awakening happened. This is done strictly by Marion, who blames Charlie for her sibling’s, Charlie’s other half’s, death. She is resentful towards Charlie for treating her sibling, Helen, inadequately throughout their reckless way of life together and also for Charlie’s monetary supremacy over her and Lincoln. An example of Charlie’s severe habits that protrudes in Marion’s mind is the night that Helen appeared at the Peters’ doorstep, shivering from the cold. Charlie had locked Helen out of the house earlier that night, Marion mentions to Charlie, “Just how much you were responsible for Helen’s death, I do not understand. It’s something you’ll have to square with your own conscience” (2210 ). Her opinion towards the old Charlie overshadows his decision and assures towards her in today. Though Charlie desires absolutely nothing but to be able to be with his child again, Marion refuses to believe he has altered. She is blunt about her opinion of Charlie and extremely hesitant about his sobriety. During a sit-down one day, Charlie, Lincoln, and Marion start going over the custody arrangement for Honoria. Lincoln is disrupted quite unexpectedly by his wife when she looks Charlie directly in the eyes and asks him, “How long are you going to stay sober, Charlie?” (2208 ). This direct blow versus Charlie’s new life harms him, and when he tries to protect himself, she brings back the memories of the previous yet once again, taunting him with the ideas of his old life.

The climax of this story happens after Marion and Lincoln tentatively consent to provide custody of Honoria back to Charlie. Charlie goes over to the Peters’ home and is brought face-to-face with his past in the type of Lorraine and Duncan. Fitzgerald says, “They were gay, they were hilarious, they were roaring with laughter” (2213 ). This is indicating that the 2 are intoxicated, and this makes Charlie exceptionally anxious and upset. Duncan and Lorraine’s drunkenness is giving Marion and Lincoln the incorrect impression about Charlie’s new life, and it gets worse when Lorraine states to Charlie, “Come and dine. Sure your cousins won’ my own” (2214 ). This quote shows just how inebriated Charlie’s old good friends were. Marion and Lincoln are not Charlie’s cousins. Duncan and Lorraine’s inebriation is obvious to everyone in the space, and when Charlie sharply tells the 2 to leave, Lorraine retorts by stating, “All right, we’ll go. However I keep in mind once when you hammered on my door at 4 a.m. I sufficed of a good sport to offer you a drink. Begin, Dunc” (2214 ). This remark breaks Marion’s already-fragile opinion about Charlie, and after Duncan and Lorraine leave, she takes back her true blessing concerning Honoria. This devastates Charlie. The past has actually again defeated him, and at the end of the story, he is left alone in a bar at the Ritz, virtually a broken male.

Fitzgerald’s often-melancholy works often recommend that memory is a living, breathing problem, which the past is something awful that can not be altered and will stay with one forever. In the short story “Babylon Revisited,” Fitzgerald represents the negative impacts of memory by triggering Charlie Wales tremendous discomfort. Charlie’s drunken, careless past brought him sadness even after he sobers up and turns his life around. His awakening might have developed him, but it shattered his dreams beyond repair. Memories and people of the past haunt his present day, and Marion Peters is unable to let go of her own memories to give Charlie another chance. During the climax of the story, Charlie’s old good friends come back and ruin his possibilities of being reunited with his daughter, and he is required to relive the headaches of his past once again and once again. Fitzgerald’s individual issues created a dissatisfied alcoholic, twisting his viewpoint of memory’s impact on the human mind, a view that he knotted into his melancholy stories about life in the early 1900’s.