“By the Waters of Babylon”
In this day and age of technological advancements, the newest and niftiest gadgets rule our headlines and evening news programs. From automated maintenance to advanced weapons, we as a human race are doing just that, to make our lives easier, our shores safer, and our cities brighter. In the intriguing short story “By the Waters of Babylon,” Stephen Vincent Benét, portrays a post-apocalyptic New York City through the eyes of a young priest’s son named John who is taking his quest from boyhood to manhood.
In the beginning, we see John reciting the law of his tribe, the people of the hills. It is known that the east and the crossing of the great river into what are called “the Place of the Gods” are forbidden. Also, the only time the dead places can be visited is in search of metal. The only way you may even touch the metal is if you are a priest, or if you are the son of a priest. The metal and whoever touches it must be “purified” upon return.
John is the protagonist of the story, and the story follows him on his quest to become a man as he discovers the harsh realities of the world on his own. To become a full-fledged priest, the priest’s son must take an 8-day journey alone to fast and meditate. As he has been told his whole life to never go east, while on his journey John encounters multiple signs that all point to the east. So john takes the risk and follows his instinct. Before he dares cross the sacred river he paints his body for death in the event he dies in the process. As he is crossing the river, his canoe overturns, but he manages to retain his bow ad a few arrows. When he took his first steps in the land of the gods, he thinks that his feet will burn upon contact, but he was fine. As he walked through the city he came to the statue of a “god” named “ASHING” near a “temple” called “UBTREAS” and prays to the god he does not know. He encounters a pack of wild dogs and retreats to the safety of...
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