"Babylon Revisited" is a story of atonement and redemption. Main character Charlie Wales has returned to Paris, the site of his former wasteful, self-destructive, and extravagant 1920s life. In 1930 and in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, Charlie has tried to turn his life around. He's left behind his fast-lane lifestyle of booze, parties, and extravagance, and is committed to being a good father to his daughter. Or so he thinks. One of the complications of "Babylon Revisited" is that we doubt the reliability and permanence of Charlie's transformation. He still drinks – in moderation – and he still reveals a tinge of longing for his former lifestyle. Is Charlie a new man?
Questions About Transformation
If Charlie is reformed, why does he insist on dragging himself through Paris and revisiting his old haunts? He claims that he wants to see Paris with new eyes, but is he not tempting himself with his old life?
Why does Charlie leave his address for Duncan Schaeffer at the beginning of the story?
Whose fault is it that Charlie doesn't get his daughter back at the end of the story? Marion's? Charlie's? Duncan and Lorraine's?
Why did Charlie reform his life? What were his motivations?
Chew on This
Charlie still needs to atone for his past at the end of "Babylon Revisited."
Charlie has finished atoning for his past sins at the end of "Babylon Revisited."