Study Guide

Ben Franklin Bragg in Alas, Babylon

By Pat Frank

Ben Franklin Bragg

No, he's not a Founding Father caught in a time vortex. Sorry to disappoint. Don't underestimate young Ben F. Bragg, however. He's a tougher cookie than you realize.

First off, Ben Franklin is as smart as his namesake. He not only instinctively knows that war is about to break out before it does, but also has detailed knowledge of its theaters of combat.

Check it out:

Ben Franklin turned, suddenly awake, and said, "What happened in the [Mediterranean Sea], Randy?"

Randy looked at Helen inquiringly. She said, "It's all right. Both of them know all about it. I didn't realize it until we were on the plane."
(4.142-143)

All Mark and Helen told him was that he's taking a vacay to Florida. Kid's the next Sherlock Holmes.

On the flip-side, Ben Franklin will never be able to enjoy a childhood of innocence after The Day. He's handling firearms within days of the bombs falling, and though he certainly does so responsibly, it's always a bummer when a pre-teen has to go on guard duty, no matter the context. In some ways, Ben was bred for this: Helen believes that "'the abnormal has become normal'" for his generation, better preparing them to live "'under the shadow of [...] atomic war'" (4.147).

We can certainly see her point. Both Ben and his sister Peyton show true toughness after The Day. Some might even say they're tougher than the adults…though don't tell Randy we said that.

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