How Many Miles to Babylon Character Notes

Topics: Social class, Working class, Upper class Pages: 5 (1863 words) Published: May 31, 2011
''How Many Miles To Babylon?'' Jennifer Johnston
Characters:
Alec Moore - Narrator
Frederick Moore - Father to Alec
Mrs. Moore - Mother to Alec
Jerry Crowe - Friend to Alec
Mrs. Crowe - Mother to Jerry
Major Glendinning - Commending Officer to Jerry and Alec in the army

General Points:
- Reflects different stages of Narrator Development.
- Written in social realism.
- There’s a continuous stream of consciousness, no chapters. - Starting and closing lines are both the same: ''Because I am an officer and a gentleman...''

 Setting of the Novel:
 The setting is varied, begins with Alec’s detention in France, and reverts to his childhood in Co. Wicklow, moves between Dublin, Belfast, England and France.  With each change of setting, the reader is brought deeper into the impending doom with awaits Alec and Jerry.  The move from Ireland to France also propels the protagonist from the domestic, political disharmony of his own country into the European fray so that the scale of the violence and cruelty of Alec’s early experiences is magnified beyond himself to thousands of other people.  Set in Ireland and focuses on the political conflict around the time of the nationalist movement and the First World War.  Also conflicts between the upper and lower class in Ireland (classification)

Plot Summary:
*Perfect for introduction to an essay*
This is the autobiographical narrative of a man facing death. Alexander Moore, an Anglo-Irish lieutenant in The British Army during World War I, recounts the events of his life which have led to his present circumstances. In defiance of the demands of his class-bound parents to give up his friendship with local Irish boy, Jerry Crowe, Alex enlists with Jerry and both find themselves in the trenches of Flanders under the command of the cold and heartless Major Glendinning. The Major treats their warm friendship with suspicion and disdain and when Jerry goes AWOL for three days to search for his wounded father, Glendinning sentences him to death, insisting Alexander take command of the firing squad that will carry out the execution. Unable to follow such a command, Alex visits his friend in his cell and shoots him with his own pistol. At the end of the novel, Alexander himself is waiting for his own execution.

tAlec Moore: The main character/Narrator t
- Alec narrates his tale of a loveless child, leaving him emotionless and scarred. At both the beginning and the end of the novel, Alec is an isolated figure. ''I love no living person... I have not communicated with either my father or my mother. Time enough for others to do that when it is all over.'' Apart from the couple of brief glimpses of happiness when the men dashed across the countryside on horseback or when they met secretly in the army camps. - Alec Moore draws the reader into the story of his life by focusing on the rituals of his parents’ lives, his early childhood, education and his friendship with Jerry Crowe – all the ways that he sees his own life. He is a young man who tries to escape the responsibilities and limitations of the class into which he has been born by forging a relationshop with someone from the opposite side of the great social, religious and political divide. - He lacks the encouragement needed from his parents, particularly from his mother to spur him to academic success. He is the only child of a bleak marriage, Alex was brought up in the Big House of an Anglo Irish estate outside of Dublin.“The dining room in the daytime was unwelcoming.” He is educated at home and learnt piano. As this meant virtual exclusion from friendships with other children. Alec’s wealth is illustrated through his life setting: “..a high curtained window in which I could see as I went up the reflection of walls, the pictures, the polished banisters, the three altered heads, the crossed pikes, and a pair of beautifully chased silver swords.” - Alec runs away from his social and personal isolation of life...
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