What is life like for Alec living at home with his mother and father in How many Miles to Babylon by Jennifer Johnston?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Alec was a lonely boy.  His parents were wealthy, and he grew up on their estate.  They did not get along, and he did not have many friends.  He did not go to school, getting all of his learning at home with tutors.

Alec’s father wants him to go to school, but his mother says he is too “delicate” according to the doctor.  She does not want him to go to school because she does not want to be home alone with his father.

Alec’s upper class upbringing is evident in his reaction to his impending death.  He is more upset with the conditions than the danger.

It wasn’t the thought of my death that made me sweat... I was afraid that one day I might wake up and find that I had come to accept the grotesque obscenity of the way we lived. 

Alec wanted to go to war possibly just to get away from his parents, who fight all of the time.  His mother calls his father “ineffective and old” and his father seems to accept him going to war.