What do you suppose was Fitzgerald's goal in writing "Babylon Revisited"?

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Fitzgerald wrote “Babylon Revisited” in 1930, a time when he was reflecting on the vagaries of his own life.  Like his character, Charlie, Fitzgerald had to face the consequences of his own actions, for he, like Charlie, had drunk too much alcohol, spent money recklessly, and in general led a dissipated life while he was in Paris.  Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, by this time, was in a mental clinic in Switzerland, and he was suffering guilt from what he might have done to contribute to her breakdown. Later he wrote a memoir called “The Crack Up,” which detailed how he fell apart from his own alcoholism, how he, like Charlie, “had been mortgaging [himself] physically and mentally up to the hilt” (“Crack Up" 72).

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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My position is that the narrator is expressing his discomfort with the American ex-patriot community living in France.  Charlie Wales, the main character (one hesitates to call him a protagonist), lives a life of thorough excess, so much so that he has a god-complex.  Charlie, irritated that his wife after a drunken quarrel, locks her out of the house, leaving her in the snow to die of exposure. 

Fitzgerald writes about the hubris of American men like Charlie, saying, his ilk were   "(t)he men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn't real snow.  If you didn't want it to be snow, you just paid money." 

Money, in this story and in many other of Fitzgerald's works, is both the utmost desire of Americans, but ironically their most assured downfall.  The ex-patriots no more escape their materialism (in fact, seem to be more likely to be consumed by it) than the capitalist culture they ostensibly shun. 

The title refers to the biblical Babylon, in which God caused the people to be completely unable to communicate.  Such is the case between "regular" Americans, and those trying to shed their identity. 


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