Babylon Revisited: Desperate Strive for Success
Through the writing of Fitzgerald, in his short stories, we see a consistent theme of the character developing through disappointment which always directly relates to the character’s past life. Fitzgerald’s, “Babylon Revisited,” portrays this theme through the main character Charlie. Charlie is brought into the picture working toward a new start and a desperate hope of a second chance in life. In fact, the scene opens in Ritz Bar, which is an old bar consisting of the epicenter of Charlie’s road to disappointment in life. We are able see the “new” Charlie starting in this scene itself. “No, no more” (Fitzgerald), Charlie says, refusing an offer for a second drink at the bar. We now see the first instance of a new sense of responsibility as Charlie claims he has been limiting himself to a strict policy of only one drink a day for the last year and a half. He was a very social person at the bar, but it was the alcohol that became his best friend. His relationship to alcohol costs him his own family and is used against him in every effort as he tries to portray a better character of himself. The first step in the right direction is admittance for your own actions as shown when he conveys to Marion that, “It would be silly for me to deny that about three years ago I was acting badly…’ (Fitzgerald). Also, Charlie told Marion openly about his visit to the Ritz Bar after coming to Paris, which in my opinion was more of a trust issue with Marion as his old self from being at the bar all the time.
Charlie is back in town after quite some time, noticing everything around him changing and evolving drastically. Alix, the bartender, let’s Charlie know that Mr. Schaeffer is the only one left in Paris from Charlie’s old life. Having felt out of place in this new life at Paris, Charlie requests Alix to leave his brother in-laws number to Mr. Schaeffer. This eventually causes his downfall to his purpose for coming back to Paris. The mistake Charlie committed here is the fact he involved a piece of his old life to his new life, and on top of that involving the people he once hurt in the situation, providing their contact information. Charlie’s past life and acquaintances consisted mainly of alcohol, which is brought into the presence of Marion’s household once again when his old friends visit without an invite. This resulted in the loss of custody of his daughter Honoria even though he was a changed man. More than anything in his life, he wants to get his daughter back, and catch up with the time lost with Honoria growing up with no father. However, Marion is extremely committing about not trusting and having a sense of hatred towards Charlie. Also, she can’t see through his old self into the new man he has changed into. Charlie does nothing but respond with a smile and keeping up a proper composure every time Marion talks to him harshly, controlling his temper. This is something he couldn’t have controlled under the influence of alcohol, which in fact resulted in the death of his wife (Marion’s sister). Her last words were her asking Marion to make sure she takes care of Honoria from that point on, which is mainly the reason why Marion is so bent on not trusting Charlie.
During Charlie’s old life, his responsibility to his own money and its worth were almost non-existent. He wishes he can go back in time and establish himself in a “eternally valuable element” (Fitzgerald). He wants to now shift his priorities in valuing his family more than valuing his money. He realizes he spent his old life wasting it on things that were benefitting himself rather than benefitting his family in any aspect. When he experiences this guilt, he decides to give a lady on the street money while spending time with Honoria. As there is a change in his character, it is shown that he values his time with daughter as well as the value of his money by understanding the struggle for one to get wealth and benefitting society rather than himself.
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