In "By the Waters of Babylon", Benet plants clues to the identity of the civilization that dies out in the "Great Burning".a) List these cluesb) At what point in the short story...

In "By the Waters of Babylon", Benet plants clues to the identity of the civilization that dies out in the "Great Burning".

a) List these clues

b) At what point in the short story could you identify the civilization?

2. Interpret the following quotations, and connect on their meanings.

a) "Truth is a hard deer to hunt. If you eat too much truth at once, you may die of the truth."

b) "Perhaps, in the old days, they ate knowledge too fast."

Expert Answers
Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to identify the clues in the short story "By the Waters of Babylon", first look for the broken words that John mentions.  He sees a statue of "a man who wears his hair like a woman" with the inscription -ASHING beneath the statue.  He assumes that this is some great god, but as the reader follows the clues, he comes to understand that Benet is referring to a broken statue of George Washington.  The same goes for -UBTREAS- as the subtreasury building and OUDISON as the Hudson River.  Putting the clues together as John goes through the Place of the Gods allows the reader to go on a journey of discovery with the character, and we, the readers, begin to recognize that this Place of the Gods is really a destroyed New York City.

Both quotations deal with the same message that too much knowledge at once can be dangerous.  If one does not know how to constructively work with a given piece of knowledge or truth, it may be misused and create chaos.  For John's people, the knowledge that the gods they worship were merely men who destroyed themselves through the misuse of technology can have a devastating effect on their society.  As it stands, the priests of the Hill People are in charge.  If what the priests teach were discovered to be an untruth, then their society as they know it would crumble.  No one would listen to the priests, and there would be anarchy.

ginverno | Student

The way the citizens approach faith.

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By the Waters of Babylon

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