By the Waters of Babylon by Stephen Vincent Benét

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From what point-of-view is "By the Waters of Babylon" written? How do you know? 

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Jonathan Beutlich, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write6,064 answers

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The narrative point of view of "By the Waters of Babylon" is first person.  Readers get their first bit of evidence of the story's point of view in the first paragraph.  The narrator, who we eventually learn is John, uses the word "we."  

We do not even say its name though we know its name.

The second paragraph provides even further evidence of the point of view.  It is in this paragraph that John introduces himself to readers and uses words like "I" and "my." 

My father is a priest; I am the son of a priest. I have been in the Dead Places near us, with my father—at first, I was afraid.

This story works well from the first person perspective because it limits how much knowledge we, as readers, can expect.  We know what John knows, and we feel what he feels.  Since John is on a journey of discovery, the first person narration helps us experience those discoveries as well.  Another thing that the first person narration helps establish is the feeling of normalcy.  John lives in a post-apocalyptic world with a people that have superstitions that aren't explained.  That's odd, but John accepts it as normal, so readers are forced to do the same thing.  

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aoibhinn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write18 answers

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The story "By the Waters of Babylon" is written in a first-person narrative.  The reason the reader is able to conclude that it is written in first person is the use of the pronouns "I" and "Me."  This narrative style allows the reader to get a first-hand account of the events that transpire.  In the case of "Babylon," the narrator is perplexed by the world that they are encountering.  Their lack of background knowledge adds to the suspence of the story, letting the reader's imagination work for itself and forcing the reader to use clues to determine the "surprise" ending.

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write1,485 answers

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By the Waters of Babylon is written in the first person.  You can tell this right away because the protagonist, John, says the word I throughout the story.  Thus, the story is told from his point of view which is first person.

“My father is a priest; I am the son of a priest.  I have been in the Dead Places near us with my father; at first I was afraid…"

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baderon | Student

first person because i is used many times throught the story

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