“Babylon Revisited” is a heart felt, beautifully delicate exploration of success, failure and redemption. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses his main character Charlie Wales’ past, present, and desired future to paint a portrait of the things that he feels are the most important in life. Success is examined through the actions of Charlie and his wife during the height of their wealth and the strain that it can cause. Failure is unfolded in Charlie’s loss of wealth and family and finally, redemption is explored through Charlie’s desire to raise his daughter and control his apparent alcoholism.
Charlie Wales was wealthy. While he lost some money in the stock market crash (232), he became very wealthy in the subsequent market boom. He was described as “…not even working toward the end, and getting richer and richer”(228). Charlie ran all over Paris, often times with his wife, spending money recklessly. He recalled “thousand-franc notes given to an orchestra for playing a single number” (219). However, extreme wealth is not without its downsides as Charlie alluded to when he described the gradual breakdown of his and Helen’s marriage. It seemed that they were so in love, but that they began to hurt one another without reason and grew further and further apart until Helen kissed another man (227). Charlie was childish and allowed his success to warp his judgment. Ironically, it was Charlie’s success and wealth that lead to his greatest failure.
Fitzgerald wanted his reader to understand that Charlie’s failure was not about the loss of his wealth due to short selling in the market, but rather his lack of maturity and self-control during the height of his wealth. These character flaws are revealed in numerous examples of Charlie behaving immaturely. One such example is when Charlie recalled an incident where he stole a tricycle and pedaled Lorraine Quarrles around Étoile (229). Also of note is that Charlie began drinking heavily after becoming wealthy and ceasing work (224)....
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