How is the Place of the Gods a metaphor in "By the Waters of Babylon'?

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Benet uses the Place of the Gods as a visual metaphor for the destruction and fall of humanity.  Even as John's people have learned to survive for centuries, the Place of the Gods lingers as an ominous shadow in the corners of their mind, representing both a threat and imminent danger to those who would venture there as well as being symbolic of man's past mistakes. 

For many years, the people of John's tribe have avoided traveling to the East because they thought the land caused sickness, the air and water proving poisonous.  Only as John learns the true meaning of the Place of the Gods can the reader fully appreciate Benet's use of metaphor to depict a time and place forgotten, one that has fallen from grace through the ravages of war.


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