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Studying "Babylon Revisited"
A story by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Babylon Revisited" is a story about Americans in Paris after the onset of the Great Depression. The story made its initial appearance in The Saturday Evening Post on February 21, 1931. Fitzgerald revised the story for Taps at Reveille, a volume of his short stories published in 1935.


Any work of literature should be entertaining to read. What gives a piece of literature permanent value is its ability not only to entertain but also to say something that gives us pause--perhaps it makes us wonder about our own lives, our society, or the human condition. Studying a work of literature should not detract you from enjoying the work but should further your understanding and thus enhance that enjoyment. To understand any work takes more than one reading. You only makes an acquaintance with a work during a first reading, but hopefully the work does grab your interest and make you want to read on. A second reading allows you to look at a work in a new way, simply because you already know the outcome, and you are now able to see the author's craft in molding the work to its conclusion.

A reader needs to make connections to a work. Can I relate, in any way, to the characters or the situations in which they find themselves? Can I put myself in a character's situation? What would I do? Can I understand a character's qualities, emotions, or actions? Can I make connections to the setting, to conflicts, to plot, to theme? Because great works of literature stand the test of time, they tend to say something universal about humanity to which everyone may relate. These are the connections a reader makes to a piece of writing. You further your understanding of a work by studying the author's craft at creating the story through its point of view, foreshadowing, symbolism, allusions, imagery, and language. You also may question, among other things, the author's intents, character motivation, verisimilitude, and others' interpretations. At this point you are truly developing your own ideas about the work of literature.

Concerning F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Babylon Revisited" then, read the story and become acquainted with the characters and their situations. Use the glossary of terms and the study questions to promote a careful second reading of the text. Use ideas to consider for developing your own connections to the story. Use ideas for essays to generate an argument for a paper. Finally, if you're ready for more involved study, research previous scholarship of "Babylon Revisited" and discover what other issues have concerned biographers of Fitzgerald and critics of the story. Develop your own judgments in relationship to that scholarship and perhaps supplement your own arguments concerning the story.

Character Descriptions

Glossary of Terms for "Babylon Revisited"

Study Questions for "Babylon Revisited"

These questions may be used to promote a careful reading of the story as well as generating discussion in the classroom.

  1. What does Charlie Wales give Alix, the barman, at the beginning of the story?
  2. How does Charlie Wales find the Ritz bar?
  3. How long does Charlie tell Alix that he has been "going slow"?
  4. What does Alix say when Charlie tells him that he is in Paris to see his daughter "for four or five days"?
  5. What was Charlie thinking as the taxi "rolled on to the Left Bank"?
  6. What is Charlie's sister-in-law's reaction upon seeing him again?
  7. What does Charlie tell Lincoln Peters about his income these days?
  8. How did Charlie stumble in his conversation with Marion?
  9. What does Charlie tell Marion about his drinking?
  10. Why did Charlie Wales not go home after dinner?
  11. What did Charlie realize about Montmartre? ... the word "dissipate"?
  12. What had all of his wasted money been given for?
  13. Why did Charlie choose Le Grand Vatel to have luncheon with Honoria?
  14. What does Honoria ask suddenly?
  15. What are Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarrles described as when they come upon Charlie and Honoria?
  16. What does Lorraine say "judicially"?
  17. How does Charlie respond when Duncan asks for his address?
  18. What is Charlie "more and more absorbed by"?
  19. What does Honoria say suddenly to her father on their ride back to the Peters'?
  20. What did Marion do when Charlie Wales opens the question of why he "really came to Paris"?
  21. How does Marion look at Charlie when he admits to "acting badly" about three years ago?
  22. What can Marion never forget?
  23. What does Charlie say slowly when Lincoln points out that for Marion the main point of giving up legal guardianship is whether she has confidence in him or not?
  24. What is Marion’s answer when Charlie says "I'm behaving damn well, so far as--"?
  25. What does Marion cry out suddenly?
  26. What did Charlie say dully?
  27. What does Marion cry as she springs up from her chair?
  28. Back in his room, Charlie could not sleep because the image of Helen haunted him. What does he remember about that February night?
  29. How does Lincoln try to explain Marion's feelings to Charlie as the two men lunched together?
  30. Back in his hotel, Charlie finds a pneumatique from Lorraine; where does she plan to see him about five?
  31. What does Charlie ask himself after reflecting upon Lorraine's message?
  32. Why was Charlie astounded for a moment when Duncan and Lorraine show up the Peters'?
  33. What did Lorraine remember that happened once?
  34. What is Marion's reaction to the visit by Duncan and Lorraine?
  35. What does Charlie reply after Paul, the head barman at the Ritz, says "I heard that you lost a lot in the crash"?
  36. What does the memory of the past sweep over Charlie like?
  37. What does Lincoln tell Charlie on the phone?
  38. What is Charlie’s response when Alix looked at Charlie's empty whisky glass?
  39. What does Charlie say to another waiter?
  40. What is Charlie’s determination at the end of the story?

Ideas to Consider for Making Connections to "Babylon Revisited"

An individual may use the following ideas for making personal connections to the story. In addition, these ideas may be used to generate discussion in the classroom to help students develop connections to the story. In turn, one or two connections to the story may be explored more fully by the student in essay form.

Ideas for Essays about "Babylon Revisited"

The following are some ideas one might consider for a paper about "Babylon Revisited." These ideas may also be used to generate discussion in the classroom. A student may then choose to explore more fully one particular topic.

Studying "Babylon Revisited"

© 1997-1998, 2000-2001
Tom Larson

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Babylon Revisited":
A Long Expostulation and Explanation:

Contents and Introduction