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Babylon Revisited

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Structure

Dialogue

Historical Context

Fitzgerald structures “Babylon Revisited” in a way that allows him to emphasize different events by altering the pace of the story. The story is divided into five sections, each consisting of a different set of events and period of time. Section I is wide-ranging and introduces us to Paris, Charlie, and the basic details of Charlie’s life. In one line, Alix, the bartender, asks him about his daughter, but a few lines later, Charlie is abruptly back on the street, having left the bar. By leaping from place to place without mentioning the passage of time, Fitzgerald gives us the background information we need and suggests that we’re getting to know Charlie just as Charlie is getting to know Paris once again. Section II slows down considerably, focusing entirely on Charlie’s lunch with Honoria to highlight their relationship. Fitzgerald’s placement of the scene just after the opening section emphasizes how dearly Charlie loves Honoria.

Section III also focuses solely on just one scene, namely Charlie’s conversation with Marion and Lincoln about Honoria’s future. Even though less time passes in this section than in the first, Fitzgerald devotes roughly the same number of pages to each to emphasize how important this conversation is to Charlie. The placement of the conversation is important too; section III ends happily, with Charlie securing a promise from Lincoln that Honoria will return to him. But because we know the story isn’t over, we begin to worry about a reversal, an effect that Fitzgerald uses intentionally to heighten the tension. Section IV puts that reversal in motion. Its sped-up pace, which rushes us from interviews with nannies to Lorraine’s pneumatique to the disastrous evening at Marion and Lincoln’s house, mirrors the increasing desperation Charlie feels as events spiral out of control. Section V is an embittered conclusion, and its brevity suggests that Charlie can hardly bear to dwell on the loss of his daughter once again.

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