How does John learn about confronting fear in "By the Waters of Babylon"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

He learns about confronting fear through his determination to visit the Place of the Gods, even though this determination will lead him into new and terrifying situations where he feels completely out of control and lacks any knowledge whatsoever about what to do and how to survive. This is indicated most strongly where he comes to the big river, and although he feels that he could go back and show that he has completed his quest, at the same time he recognises that there is something inside of him that forces him to continue, even though he does not know how to cross the river. Note the description of how he faces his fear:

When the raft was made, I said the sayings for the dead and painted myself for death. My heart was cold as a frog and my knees like water, but the burning in my mind would not let me have peace. As I pushed the raft from the shore, I began my death song—I had the right. It was a fine song.

John shows how he confronts his fear through his determination to visit the Place of the Gods, even though that places him in dangerous and terrifying situations. It is above all else this drive and determination to succeed in his quest that forces and encourages him to persevere even when he is terrified about what he is doing and what might happen to him. Note from the above quote that he expects to die, as he begins his "death song" and feels he has "the right" to sing it.

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By the Waters of Babylon

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