Babylon Revisited Review
“Babylon Revisited” is undoubtedly one the best short stories written by Scott Fitzgerald. The story was written in 1930 and was later published in 1931. Upon a closes analysis, the story draws a very close parallel to Fitzgerald’s life because it reflects some of his experiences while living at a time when jazz was revered to the extent that it influenced the lives of very many individuals, that is, in the 1920s. During this period, high living led to the disillusionment of several individuals. The story is set in Europe during the 1930s and it examines the life of Charlie Wales, who at some point in his life was a jazz playboy but his extreme behaviors and mannerisms led to the death of his wife, Helen. Moreover, he plunged himself into more trouble and misery through alcoholism. While being rehabilitated, Charlie’s daughter was placed under the custody of her sister in-law “Marion” and her husband “Lincoln”. After some time, Charlie reformed his behaviors and he established himself as a very prominent and successful businessperson in Prague. The stage is set when Charlie returns to Paris with the aim of regaining custody of her daughter. Marion and her husband have are not people of great means, that is, they are not very rich, therefore they are very resentful and bitter of Charlie’s pasts excesses. Moreover, Marion is still very bitter with Charlie because she believes that he played a very crucial role in the death of her sister. Even though Charlie has transformed and changed considerably, Marion is very suspicious of his and is not willing to allow him to take his daughter. Charlie’s situation is aggravated when some friends he had during his days as ad drunkard seek his while he is at Marion’s home. Marion is not amused and she strengthens her resolve not to hand over Honoria to Charlie. The story ends when Charlie decides that he will come back later for his daughter. At this point, he is convinced they “they” cannot make pay for his transgressions forever. Through this story, it is very clear that the history of an individual’s past is widely related to his present circumstances and serves to influence his/her future situations.
Most individuals are always haunted by the transgressions or consequences of their experiences and actions. Indeed, the character Charlie in the story “Babylon Revisited” is a clear example of such an individual. Charlie decides to go back to Paris where he was well known for his drunken behavior and his irresponsibility. Charlie wants his daughter, but for him to be accorded the custody of his daughter he has to prove to Marion beyond any reasonable doubt that he has changed his ways. Charlie condoned a very reckless and irresponsible behavior in his past and the death of his wife is widely attributed to his irresponsible demeanor. His drunkenness and negligent behavior depicted and underlined the fact that he is a careless father; therefore, the custody of his daughter is given to the sister in-law Marion. After moving to Paris and transforming his behavior, he still has to provide to his brother Lincoln and sister in-law Marion that he is a reformed man and they do not believe him. Marion still has the perception of Charlie he knew some years back, and is convinced that, he should not have the custody of the daughter. Charlie has the task of trying to convince Marion and her husband and some of his friends that he is not the individual they knew some years ago.
Indeed, Charlie embarks on the difficult and intricate journey of trying to prove to various individuals that he is a transformed and changed man. Initially, he has to convince Marion and Lincoln. Lincoln is very receptive and understanding and he is listens and believs Charlie, however, Marion is very pessimistic and distrustful of Charlie that he is not ready to accept the fact that he has reformed his behaviors and changed his ways. Marion is of the view that Charlie contributed to the death of Helen. When Charlie attempts to underline that his wife died of heart trouble, Marion does not agree with him. After some time, Marion’s heart softens towards Charlie and she recognizes and treats him with some dignity. However, the emergence of Charlie’s friends Duncan and Lorraine complicates the entire issue.
Essentially, Duncan and Lorraine represents Charlie’s past that he is trying to prove that he has forgotten. These friends are with him in Paris and they raise doubts about his purported transformation and change. Ideally, it is very difficult for him to prove that he is a changed man while he still clings to some “baggage of the past”. Even though he is trying to prove the fact that he is a transformed man, Duncan and Lorraine are always present to remind him and others of his past shortcomings.
In spite of all the distrust and suspicion from various individuals, Honria is very convinced that Charlie is a transformed man with great potential. The daughter is convinced het the father can make a very good father. In fact, he constantly requests to go home with him; essentially, she wants to be part of his father future. Even though Charlie is very determined to regain the custody of his daughter, the daughter is representative of his desire and unyielding urge to regain his reputation and honor in the eyes of both his family members and friends. Often while interacting with his daughters he meets various individuals from his pasts but he ignores and evades them. Charlie is trying to break away from his past, which is represented by Duncan and Lorraine, and be able to connect and look into his future, which is represented by his daughter Honoria. Nevertheless, Charlie’s past is very sticky to the extent that his dream for a better and bitter future with his daughter is curtailed widely because of the issues and transgressions of the past. Frustration takes a toll on him and he sits at a bar morning and grieving at the days he used to engage in different vices. He comes to the realization that even though he has been working very hard to rid himself of his dart past, the past still affects and controls his future. Charlie attempts to undo what he had done. He tries to clear his name, which is associated with his turbulent past. He is very optimistic that a day will come when he will be free from his past deeds. Further, he is looking forward to a day when he will be fully reunited with his daughter and granted his respect and honor by all his friends and family. All that notwithstanding, he is fully aware that the decision he made in the past are part of him and he cannot run away from them. Even though he tries to convince the world that he is a transformed individual, the decisions and mistakes he made in the past still come back to haunt his. The best he can do is to hope and pray that the Charlie that he is now will also become a past that most individuals will remember for several years to come.