STUDY QUESTIONS ON FITZGERALD'S "BABYLON REVISITED"

Written and adapted from various sources
by
Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Associate Professor of English
Ferrum College


1. Why does Fitzgerald begin the story with what seems to be the end of a conversation that then begins when Charlie walks into the bar several lines later?

2. What atmosphere is created by the details of the Paris setting and Charlie's conversations with people around the city? How have circumstances changed since he lived there with his wife? What kinds of ghosts are still haunting him?

3. As Charlie rides through Paris on his way to see his daughter, he thinks, "I spoiled this city for myself." What does he mean? Why does Fitzgerald introduce this idea in such vague terms here?

4. What are Charlie's attitudes toward himself and his past? Which parts of the story reveal the difficulties of escaping the past?

5. What does Charlie learn about the meaning of the word "dissipate"?

6. Characterize the Peters family. To what extent are we to approve of their attitudes? What elements of American society do they represent? Why have they become estranged from the group of expatriates Charlie and his old friends represent?

7. What is the effect of Charlie's repeatedly taking "only one drink every afternoon"? Do we expect him to regress into alcohol abuse?

8. What does Charlie's brief encounter with the woman in the brasserie contribute to the story?

9. Why does Charlie identify the fine fall day as "football weather"?

10. What is the impact of the appearance of Duncan and Lorraine after Charlie's lunch with Honoria? What is significant in the timing and manner of their reappearance later?

11. What are Marion's motives for vacillating in her decision about letting Charlie take Honoria? What do her responses to Charlie reveal about her own character?

12. What type of father is Charlie? If you were a judge deciding the fate of Honoria, to whom would you award custody?

13. What are the different points of view on the extent of Charlie's responsibility for his wife's death?

14. What connections are made between emotional or spiritual states and physical sickness in this story?

15. How do you explain Charlie's reaction to Lorraine's message?

16. What is the irony in Charlie's present financial success, apparently unique among his old friends?

17. What thematic or symbolic significance is contained in the names of some of the characters and places, and in the associations made between people and certain colors? What does the title mean?

18. What is the mood at the end of the story? What are Charlie's prospects for starting a new life and raising his own daughter?

19. Have you seen the old Hollywood film version of this story, with Elizabeth Taylor as Charlie's wife?  What do you think of the way the film changes the ending of the story?

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