Describe the social, political and cultural conditions in Fort Repose, FL at the beginning of the novel. In particular, how are relations between races, classes, and genders and to what extent do these reflect the time period in which the novel was written? What circumstances are seen as justifying or necessitating changes in these social relations?

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The social and cultural climate in Fort Repose at the beginning of Alas, Babylon is very true to its time: the early 1950s. For the most part, women act in domestic roles, with Randy's sister-in-law Helen being a mother and serving as the cook and main schoolteacher for the children. Additionally, the African American neighbors serve mainly as groundskeepers and provide manual labor for Randy and his family—in other words, they take on servile roles, which was very common in that time period.

Throughout the novel, however, everyone's status changes dramatically. The group becomes more unified and cohesive following the nuclear attacks. It seems that the urgency of the situation has led them to become a familial unit, or at least something of a troop, that has to work together, with everyone on equal footing and contributing their strengths to the team.

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