In the beginning look, “Babylon Revisited” seems to bring the very same them as The Great Gatsby of the threats of idealizing the past to the point of ruining the present. Nevertheless, “Babylon Revisited” includes an extra layer of significance by securely placing the uncertainty in between the hopes for the future and the sins of the past squarely in the world of alcoholism. Through the characters, Fitzgerald portrays a drinking culture where the parties have lost their joy and the hangovers have actually ended up being the de facto lifestyle. The characters of “Babylon Revisited” reside in a twilight world of desperation and regret, too old to delight in the drinking but incapable of genuinely altering their methods.
Charlie is the character that the majority of resembles F. Scott Fitzgerald’s biography, a former migrant who invested the 1920s in Paris, drinking and composing and handling an unhinged other half. There is an irony to the characterization because Charlie is a shell of a human being holding onto the past, whereas Fitzgerald’s writing had actually become much deeper and more mature in his post-Paris years. Charlie’s appearance is described as “He was thirty-five, and good to take a look at. The Irish mobility of his face was sobered by a deep wrinkle in between his eyes. As he sounded his brother-in-law’s bell in the Rue Palatine, the wrinkle deepened till it pulled down his eyebrows; he felt a cramping feeling in his stubborn belly” (676 ). This physical description is from Charlie’s point of view where he admits that he’s old (wrinkles) but still maintains his illusion of youthful vitality (Irish mobility). Despite the fact that Charlie’s stated objective is to take custody of his daughter, the story makes it apparent that he would prefer to relive the past when alcohol was fun and the celebration continued. Charlie is introduced asking about old pals just to find that most of them are gone. Even before he visits his brother-in-law, he is making strategies to see old drinking buddies. Fitzgerald encapsulates Charlie’s sense of disorientation while talking about the Ritz bar. “It was not an American bar any more– he felt respectful in it, and not as if he owned it. It had returned into France.” (675) Because one sentence, Fitzgerald communicates Charlie’s history, his disorientation and his current life. Charlie feeling “respectful” in a bar stimulates a question of what he resembled in the 1920s prior to the 1929 Crash. There are also numerous concerns from that line. Does Charlie sensation courteous mean that there’s a self-knowledge about his past where he was never ever polite? Or did the reality that he was an American in Paris living an expatriate life make him feel rude when he was to name a few Americans? Charlie appears to have as soon as carried the self-image of a loud and lively drunk and as soon as that ends, he seems puzzled by the reality that he didn’t die young and must now carry on his drinking in courteous repose. Charlie’s relationship to his past shifts between sentimental and regretful, however it is more frequently classic. His time at the Ritz bar is spent talking to Alix about the old crowd, but when he says that his main objective is his child, Alix is shocked that he has a child. Keep in mind that Alix is a character who has understood Charlie for several years.
After a disastrous check out with his in-laws and his daughter, he returns to the bars. In these scenes, he is a petulant child who does not get his own way, so he moves back into the familiar area of dissipation, even though he confesses repeatedly that there is no delight left in the activity. “All the catering to vice and waste was on an utterly childish scale, and he all of a sudden recognized the meaning of the word ‘dissipate’– to dissipate into thin air; to make nothing out of something. In the little hours of the night every move from location to location was an enormous human dive, an increase of spending for the opportunity of slower and slower movement.” (678 )
As much as Charlie wants to be the decent and mature father, he is a child upset that his playtime is over. Even when he is attempting to encourage his in-laws to allow him to take his daughter, he blatantly lies about his drinking. “I have not had more than a beverage a day for over a year, and I take that beverage deliberately, so that the idea of alcohol will not get too big in my imagination.” (681) However, this deception is not simply for his in-laws; Charlie is simply as much trying to convince himself that he’s sober. When Duncan and Lorraine meet him while he’s with his daughter, his evaluation of the circumstance is blatantly incorrect, however he’s just lying to himself: “They liked him since he was functioning, because he was severe; they wished to see him, due to the fact that he was more powerful than they were now, due to the fact that they wished to draw a particular nourishment from his strength.” (680 )
One of the most frustrating elements of Charlie is his lack of insight. In the language of Alcoholic Confidential and 12 Step Programs, Charlie is a man who is not willing to take that first step to confessing that he has an issue. Although Charlie’s in-laws don’t let him have his child since they don’t trust him, he filters everything through his sense of privilege. “They couldn’t make him pay forever,” (689) is what Charlie is feeling in location of naked sincerity. He can not confess that he’s a danger to himself and his child. Rather, he is being made to spend for past mistakes by two unfeeling in-laws.
If Charlie is based on Fitzgerald, then Helen is based on Zelda, Fitzgerald’s psychologically unsteady spouse who constantly battled with him and jealously denigrated his work. Hemingway notoriously blamed her for the limitations of Fitzgerald’s work. Charlie echoes this blame when he states that “I never ever did drink heavily until I quit company and came over here with nothing to do. Then Helen and I began to run around” (681 ). His in-laws stop him from speaking versus Helen, but as a dead character she has entered into his narrative. Considering that she is not around to protect herself, Charlie can blame all of his bad practices on her. She ends up being another tool for his self-deception. Not only is he informing himself that he no longer drinks heavily, but he can put all the drinking entirely on the shoulders of Helen. As the story states “The image of Helen haunted him. Helen whom he had enjoyed so until they had actually senselessly started to abuse each other’s love, tear it into shreds.” (683) In other words, Charlie maintains the memory that it’s nobody’s fault. The Couples
There are two couples that haunt Charlie– Marion & & Lincoln as the accountable couple and Lorraine & & Duncan as the old drinking couple. These couples seem diametric revers initially and yet, they are all refusing to see any growth on the part of Charlie. Lorraine summarize the eternal childishness of the drinking couple when she writes to Charlie: “We did have such great times that insane spring, like the night you and I took the butcher’s tricycle, and the time we tried to get in touch with the president and you had the old derby rim and the wire walking stick. Everyone appears so old lately, however I do not feel old a bit.” (684 )
Even though Marion disapproves of Charlie, her evaluation of him as a good time intoxicated without responsibility is extremely comparable. “When you were discarding money we were living along enjoying every ten francs … I suppose you’ll begin doing it once again” (682 ). When these couples meet in the climactic scene, Charlie is put in the position of attempting to combat the understandings of four individuals who know him exclusively as a reckless intoxicated. Sadly, Charlie can not contest their image of him with anything but self-deception and submission.
Functions Pointed out
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “Babylon Revisited.” In Baym, Nina, gen. ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Vol D. 8th ed. New York: WW Norton, 2012. 675-689.