Babylon Revisited : Characters
Alix is an acquaintance of Charlie’s who works in the bar at the Ritz Hotel. He tells Charlie about what has happened to some of his former American friends who used to come to Paris and live lavishly.
Paul is the head barman at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
Lincoln Peters is married to Marion. They live in an apartment in Paris with their son and daughter and Charlie’s daughter Honoria. Lincoln works in a bank. His steady job affords his family a comfortable lifestyle but they have never had the riches that Charlie once enjoyed. Lincoln and Charlie get along quite well, and Lincoln has none of the hostility toward Charlie that his wife feels. Lincoln is happy to allow Charlie to regain custody of Honoria, but unfortunately for Charlie it is not his decision to make, since Marion is the legal guardian. Lincoln therefore defers to his wife’s wishes, especially when she become sick and he does not want her getting more upset over the matter of who has custody of Honoria.
Marion Peters is married to Lincoln. She is the sister of Charlie’s dead wife Helen and therefore Charlie’s sister-in-law. She is also the legal guardian of Charlie’s daughter, Honoria, who lives with the Peters family. Marion took a strong dislike to Charlie following Helen’s death, for which she believed he bore some responsibility. Charlie must therefore persuade her that he is a changed man if he is to regain custody of Honoria. After they discuss the matter, Marion agrees to drop her objection to Charlie’s plan to take Honoria with him to Prague, although she is not entirely gracious about it. She still regards him with a certain wariness. But after Duncan and Lorraine make an unannounced visit, Marion, who seems to be in a fragile emotional state, gets sick, and Lincoln decides that the transfer of custody of Honoria will have to wait at least six months; he does not want to put more strain on his wife. Marion’s hostility to Charlie may also be in part based on the fact that he had enjoyed much greater wealth than she and Lincoln could ever attain.
Lorraine Quarrles is a friend of Duncan Schaeffer and a former friend of Charlie. They got up to some riotous escapades in Paris during Charlie’s wild days, and Lorraine is keen to renew their friendship. She is described as “a lovely, pale blond of thirty.” She is married but her husband has not come to Paris with her this time since they no longer have the wealth they enjoyed in former years. Lorraine says she is poor. However, she and Duncan seem to have enough money to enjoy themselves in Paris.Charlie acknowledges that Lorraine is an attractive woman but he is not interested in getting reacquainted with her.
Duncan Schaeffer is an old college friend of Charlie’s and they spent time together in Paris when times were good. Duncan and his friend Lorraine run into Charlie again when Charlie returns to Paris, but Charlie decides he does not want to renew their friendship.
Charlie Wales is the protagonist of the story. He is thirty-five years old and is described as good-looking: “The Irish nobility of his face was sobered by a deep wrinkle between his eyes.” Like many Americans in the 1920s, Charlie made money in the stock market and spent it lavishly on food, drink, and entertainment in Paris over a period of several years. He had so much money he quit working. But then came the crash of 1929, and his circumstances changed. His excessive drinking also caught up with him, and he had to stay for a while in a sanatorium. To make matters even worse, his marriage collapsed, and his wife later died of heart disease. Charlie lost custody of his daughter, Honoria, to his sister-in-law Marion.
Charlie visits Paris in 1931 in order to reclaim his daughter. He has now recovered from his bad years and lives and works in Prague, where he has become quite prosperous. He never takes more than one drink per day. He believes that he is a changed man and is ready to take on the responsibility once more of raising Honoria. As he sees once more his former hangouts in Paris, like the bar in the Ritz Hotel and the cafés and clubs in Montmartre, he reflects on how much he wasted and how pointless and destructive his lifestyle was. Although he fears that he lost something in those dissolute yearsthat he can never regain, he does hope to regain custody of Honoria and reestablish a family life in Prague.
Helen Wales does not appear directly in the story but casts a shadow over it. She was Charlie’s wife who died of unspecified “heart trouble.” Her marriage to Charlie deteriorated while they were living the high life in Paris.
Honoria Wales is the nine-year-old daughter of Charlie and Helen Wales. She was taken from her father’s care after he entered a sanatorium as a result of excessive drinking and her mother died. Honoria lives with the Peters family in Paris. She is quite happy there but she also loves her father and wants to go and live with him. She seems to be quite a clever and sophisticated child who does well at school.