Babylon Revisited

An Analysis of “Babylon Revisited” In the short story “Babylon
Revisited,” a man named Charlie Wales has come back to Paris with the
intent of regaining custody of his nine year old daughter. She has been staying
with her aunt and uncle since the death of her mother. Being in Paris brings
back memories of his previous lifestyle of drinking, late night socializing, and
excessive spending. During lunch with his daughter he encounters two friends
from his carousing days, but since he is attempting to turn his life around, he
has no desire to renew their friendship. He politely declines their invitation
to meet up later so that he can spend time with his daughter. While finalizing
the details with his sister-in-law regarding his daughter, they are interrupted
by his former cohorts from the restaurant, resulting in the postponement of
custody. The central idea is that people make mistakes but if they are given a
second chance, it is possible to turn their life around. Personification is one
of the literary terms used in this story. The examples “his heart sat up
rigidly” and “his heart leaped” are giving his heart human
characteristics. The first quote is referring to how nervous Charlie is feeling
when he is at his sister-in-law Marion’s house. He knows that she dislikes him
and the anticipated talk of custody probably contributed to this feeling. The
second quote demonstrates his excitement and happiness when his daughter Honoria,
tells him that she desires to live with him. When Charlie and Honoria are having
lunch together, he asks her the name of her child, referring to her doll. When
Honoria states that her child’s name is Simone she is giving her doll life, when
in reality it is just a toy. Dramatic irony is another term that is used in this
story. Charlie claims that he has control of his drinking problem, that he is
stable, and no longer socializes with the wrong crowd. The story begins with
Charlie hanging out at bar that he is very familiar with asking about old
acquaintances who are former drinking buddies. He sabotages himself when he
leaves an address with the bartender for his old friend Duncan. The night he
walks about the streets of Paris, he engages in conversation with a woman who
presumably could be a prostitute. When he runs into Lorraine and Duncan he
states where he will be taking his daughter later that day, knowing that there
is a chance that they might show up there. The reader can assume that they were
still drinkers because in a letter Lorraine wrote to Charlie, she mentions that
she has a hangover. Charlie even allows himself one drink everyday and feels
that is the cure to his drinking problem. When Lorraine and Duncan show up at
Marion’s house, Charlie tries to get rid of them by telling them that he will
catch up with them later and then tries to portray that he is outraged by their
uninvited intrusion. He claims that he does not know how his friends got their
address, when he had left it for Duncan while he was visiting at the bar. What
Marion sees with her eyes is a man who still has a drink every day, former
hang-out buddies still in Charlie’s life, and a man who is not changed. This
perception of Charlie results in Marion changing her mind about Honoria going to
live with her dad. The author uses a metaphor in following passage: “At the
Empire, Honoria proudly refused to sit upon her father’s folded coat. She was
already an individual with a code of her own, and Charlie was more and more
absorbed by the desire of putting a little of himself into her before she
crystallized utterly. It was hopeless to try to know her in so short a
time.” When Charlie says that his daughter will “crystallized
utterly,” he does not mean that she will be turn into a crystal. He is
saying that he can see how quickly his daughter is growing up. He is also
realizing how little time there is before he will no longer has any influence on
what kind of person his daughter will become. The writer uses a simile when
Charlie is discussing family problems with his sister-in-law, Marion.

“Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules.

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They’re not like aches or wounds; they’re more like splits in the skin that
won’t heal because there’s not enough material. I wish you and I could be on
better terms.” Charlie compares family quarrels to aches, wounds, and
splits in the skin that won’t heal. He says that family quarrels are not like
aches or wounds but they are like splits in the skin. When he talks about splits
that won’t heal because there is not enough material, he means that he
understands that some quarrels cannot be resolved because too many things have
happened and the feelings between the family member are too bitter and run too
deep. The reader could feel sympathy for Charlie since he claims to be a
recovering alcoholic who has lost his wife, daughter, and money during the stock
market crash. He realizes that he once had a problem but that he has finally
turned his life around. To regain custody of Honoria, all he has to do is prove
to Marion that he is a changed man and that he deserves a second chance. One can
only wonder whether Charlie is really any different than before. When Marion
asks Charlie how long his drinking will remain at one a day, his response is not
one of confidence. While reminiscing about the past, he recalls the days of
living in luxury and the way he threw money around. He seems to find those
memories as joyful ones and not one of regret. When Charlie states that he lost
money during the crash, but everything during the boom, he realizes that what he
lost was his family and that they are important to him. Possibly this is why he
dwells in the past, where Helen lives, and has not yet gone on with his life.