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In the short story “Babylon Revisited”, written by F.Scott Fitzgerald there are many different settings in the story. One of the main settings in the story is the bar at the beginning. The bar it self represents the jazz era, where everyone wore fancy clothes, partied all the time and tipped well. The bar is also a cold reminder how the Americans used to live in the 20’s, since they have almost no money in the 30’s. It also represents the old Charlie Wales and it serves as a reminder to the new Charlie Wales about his past.
“We were sort of royalty, almost infallible, with a sort of magic around us”(89). The old Charlie Wales lived during the economic boom of the 20’s, or other wise known as the jazz era. He lived a good life. During that time, he spent a lot of time drinking and throwing away money: “ he remembered thousand-franc notes given to an orchestra for playing a single number, hundred-franc notes tossed to a doorman for calling a cab”(90). Sometimes just acting childish with his friends Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarrles: “We did have such good times that crazy spring, like that night you and I stole that butcher’s tricycle…”(98). Nevertheless, he spent a lot of time in a bar called the Ritz. When he first got there, it was instinctive to give the head barman his numbers were he was staying as if it was his second home. “If you see Mr.Schaeffer, give him this…It’s my brother-inlaw’s address. I haven’t settled on a hotel yet”(86).
After the rolling 20’s came the economic depression of the 30’s. Everyone was affected, even the high and mighty that thought they were even royalties were affected.
Charlie Wales asked the bartender “ By the way, what’s become of Claude Fessenden?”
Alix lowered his voice confidentially: “He’s in Paris, but he doesn’t come here any more. Paul doesn’t allow it. He ran up a bill of thirty thousand francs, charging all his drinks, his lunches, and usually his dinner, for more than a year. And when Paul finally told him he had to pay, he gave him a bad check.”(87)
When Charlie Wales first came to Paris his first stop was an old bar he used to go to, the Ritz. Much had changed since he had left. “It was not an American bar any more-he felt polite in it, and not as if he owned it”(86).
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All Charlie Wales good time’s were for nothing when he lost Helen his wife and Hanoria his daughter. He had lost his daughter, because he was to drunk not to keep here. “ When she dying she asked me to look out for Hanoria. If you hadn’t been in a sanitarium then, it might help matters “(95). So Charlie Wales made a life decision to give up drink for good except for his one drink a day. “ As I told you, I haven’t had more than a drink a day for over a year, and I take that drink deliberately, so that the idea of alcohol won’t get to big in my imagination”(94). Unfortunately with all his good intentions to start again with his daughter are ruined by his past. The old Charlie Wales, were very good friends with Duncan Schaeffer and Lorraine Quarrles. Just at the moment, he was going to regain custody of his daughter they came barging in to invite him to Dinner. Expecting him to say yes, since they old Charlie Wales would of. Due to this, Marion got sick and went bed, and thus making the decision that Charlie Wales will probable never regain custody of his daughter while she is still alive. Even as he was asking them politely to leave, they reminded him of when he used to barge in on them at ung-dly hours of the night. “ All right, we’ll go. But I remember once when you hammered on my door at four A.M. I was enough of a good sport to give you a drink.”(100).
So at the end it’s the bar were he drank, throw away his money and meet new people and it’s those friends he made there that caused him to lose Hanoria, for what it seems to be for good. So yes, the most important setting in the story is the bar at the beginning of the story.
Night out on the Ritz:
The Function of the Bar in “Babylon Revisited”
Fitzgerald, F.Scott, “Babylon Revisited.” 1931. Rpt. The International Story: An Anthology with Guidelines for Reading and Writing About Fiction. Ruth Spack.New York: St.Martin’s, 1994. 86-102