The Outdoors

Many scenes in “Babylon Revisited” take place on the streets of Paris, where people go when they’re lonely or angry. Charlie forces Lorraine and Duncan out onto the street, for example, when they surprise him at Marion and Lincoln’s house, and they leave in a fit of anger. When Charlie wanders through Montmartre, the nervous tourists and overeager nightclub employees only make him feel more solitary. Most obviously abandoned to the dangerous streets is Helen, whom Charlie had locked out after fighting with her. The fact that Charlie locked her outside during a snowstorm is a particularly cruel gesture in this story, which characterizes the outdoors as a place of sadness and danger. Fitzgerald emphasizes the melancholy quality of the outdoors by contrasting it with the indoors, which he portrays as warm, cozy, and safe. All the scenes that take place in Marion and Lincoln’s house, for example, connote a happy family atmosphere created by responsible adults. When Charlie finally leaves their house toward the end of the story, he is appropriately cast back into the lonely streets.