Study Guide

Alas, Babylon Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

By Pat Frank

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

Chapter 3

"As soon as you get a job, I'll follow you. If you want, we can live together for a while. If it's good, we can get married."

[...]

"Too late," he said (3.90)

What Lib doesn't know yet, of course, is that the very concept of jobs is about to become obsolete for the foreseeable future. There goes that plan. In fact, that's one of the big tragedies of a situation like this. The hopes, dreams, and desires of millions are snuffed out in an instant, whether they're killed in the initial blasts or not.

Chapter 4

"Your job is to survive because if you don't the children won't survive. That is your job. There is no other. You understand that, Helen?" (4.6)

Helen probably expected to enjoy a slow, steady life as a military wife, and then a lovely, long retirement with the man she loves. Not a likely outcome in the Nuclear Age. Instead, she'll have to fight tooth and nail just for her children to survive to adulthood.

Chapter 8

Since The Day, he had lived in the imperative present, not daring to plan beyond the next meal or the next day. (8.104)

After the bomb falls, the concept of the future ceases to exist. You could run out of food that day. You could get jumped by a highwayman tomorrow. No use worrying about a tomorrow you probably won't see.

[Randy] remembered words which for four months he had not heard, read, or uttered, the most beautiful words in the language—faith and hope. (8.104)

Although Randy was never religious before The Day, he's deeply moved when he sees a flyer in Marines Park announcing an Easter Sunday service. Has our hero suddenly become a diehard believer? Maybe. More likely, however, the service makes him feel connected with the other survivors of Fort Repose, and even hopeful about their mutual future.

Chapter 9
Randy Bragg

Randy said, "Did you ever hear a little girl say 'If I grow up' before?"

"No, I never did. It gives me the creeps." (9.96-97)

It sure gave us the creeps reading it, if that counts for anything. Oddly, neither Peyton nor Ben Franklin—the two characters whose futures are most hindered by the nuclear apocalypse—seem all that bummed. In fact, they take it more in stride than the adults.

They walked on, his arm around her waist. "This is a bad time for love," she said. (9.212)

Randy and Lib's growing love only makes it harder to accept that this will be their future, fighting tooth and nail to make it through the day. Things could've been so different.

"Who can tell how much cesium 137 showered down on The Day? [...] The geneticists warned us of damage to future generation." (9.47)

All our heroes' struggles will be for naught if surging atmospheric radiation puts the human race down for the count before it even gets back on its feet. The worst part is that radiation is a silent killer. They might not know they've screwed the pooch until it's too late.

Chapter 10

"I wish we had a place of our own so I could keep you. I wish we had just one room to ourselves. I wish we were married." (10.158)

For Lib and Randy, this is especially annoying because they're with each other all the time. The only thing standing in their way is the lack of electricity, potential nuclear fallout, roving bands of violent highwaymen—you know, rom-com stuff. They're able to be together physically, sure, but not as fully as either might prefer.

Chapter 11

Elizabeth McGovern and Randolph Bragg were married at noon that Easter Sunday. (11.1)

Eventually, Lib and Randy say phooey to logic and get hitched. Is this a mostly symbolic gesture? Sure. But as far as symbolic gestures go, it sure hits the mark. It gives both of them something to fight for in the future.

Chapter 12

"You see, this was the first live baby, full term. I had two other pregnancies that ended prematurely [...] Anyway, now we know that there's going to be a human race, don't we?" (12.122)

The first babies born after the bomb are lifesavers—literally. As long as humans are popping out of other humans faster than they're dying, we just might be okay. Good work, team.

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