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What does UBTREAS mean in "By the Waters of Babylon"?John finds this at some...

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nicckkb | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 12, 2008 at 9:20 AM via web

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What does UBTREAS mean in "By the Waters of Babylon"?

John finds this at some broken columns and he could only read half. Any help would be great. thanx

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 12, 2008 at 9:56 AM (Answer #1)

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Since we can deduct that the City of the Gods is New York we can also figure out some of the meanings. "--primitive hunting society after destruction of "civilized" world). Explain the following: "the Bitter Water" (Atlantic Ocean) bitter because of the salt; "ASHIN" (Washington); "UBTREAS" (Subtreasury Building); "building with starry ceiling" (Grand Central). "

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cjck | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 14, 2008 at 1:51 AM (Answer #2)

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Subtreasury.....as in the Department of the Subtreasury

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alicia20 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 14, 2008 at 2:11 AM (Answer #3)

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It's a fragment of "Subtreasury Building."

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ail33n-8 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 2, 2008 at 1:08 PM (Answer #4)

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it is an incomplete phrase that was actually SUBTREASURY

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roodoopoo | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 29, 2010 at 4:22 AM (Answer #5)

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"UBTREAS" in "By the Waters of Babylon" is The Subtreasury Building on 21st Street in New York......

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 31, 2015 at 6:16 PM (Answer #6)

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There really is no question about this one.  The other people are correct.  The word fragment "UBTREAS" clearly does stand for "Subtreasury."  The author presumably includes this word fragment, along with his description of the "building with the starry ceiling," to let us understand that the City of the Gods is actually New York City.  The author probably does this because he wants us to realize that he is warning us about the sorts of calamities our own world would be facing if it continued on the path down which it was going.  Benet was writing this story in 1937, when the Spanish Civil War was going on and the city of Guernica had just been bombed.  This event made him consider the destructive power of the modern technology of the time.  He wrote "By the Waters of Babylon" as a cautionary tale.  In order to make it more effective, he needed to state quite clearly that the ruined civilization that John sees is our own civilization.

Thus, we can say that the fragment "UBTREAS" is one of the clues that tells us that this part of the story takes place in New York City.

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