Babylon Revisited : Top Ten Quotes

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  1. “I spoiled this city for myself. I didn’t realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone, and everything was gone, and I was gone.”

    Part 1

    Back in Paris after an absence of eighteen months, Charlie Wales reflects on a taxi ride through the city the profligate life he had led in Paris and how it had ended in disaster.

  2. “Now at least you can go into a store without them assuming you are a millionaire.”

    Part 1

    Marion Peters speaks to her brother-in-law, Charlie Wales. She is commenting on the fact that there are now fewer rich Americans in Paris than there were before. She finds this a much more pleasant situation than formerly.

  3. “He believed in character; he wanted to jump back a whole generation and trust in character again as the eternally valuable element. Everything else wore out.”

    Part 1

    Charlie Wales reflects. He is now aware of the things that really matter and provide a lasting basis for a valuable life. Moral qualities are more important than material wealth or the things that money can buy, which do not last.

  4. “All the catering to vice and waste was on an utterly childish scale, and he suddenly realized the meaning of the word 'dissipate’ – to dissipate into thin air; to make nothing out of something.”

    Part 1

    Charlie Wales reflects on life as he passes through Montmartre, an area in Paris, and observes the night life there. With his newfound wisdom gained as a result of the misfortune he suffered after he spent money wildly and behaved irresponsibly, he realizes just how childish his behavior was.

  5. “Marion sat behind the coffee service in a dignified black dinner dress that just faintly suggested mourning.”

    Part 3

    This is Marion as she appears to Charlie when Charlie arrives at the Peters’ apartment to discuss what they are going to do about Honoria. The black dress suggestive of mourning foreshadows the fact that Marion has not forgotten Helen’s death and still blames Charlie for it.

  6. “The present was the thing—work to do and someone to love.”

    Part  4

    This is Charlie’s prescription for happiness. He had woken up feeling happy, knowing that he would be able to take Honoria back with him to Prague, but then sad thoughts had struck him, about Helen and the plans they had had in the past. He realizes now that life must be lived in the present, not the past.

  7. “Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds; they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.”

    Part 4

    Charlie speaks to Marion at the point in the story where Marion has accepted that Honoria will go to live with Charlie. There is a brief possibility that relations between Marion and Charlie will now get warmer, and this is Charlie’s way of saying that he hopes that will be so. He acknowledges that there has been a quarrel but speaks in a very conciliatory manner. However, Marion’s response is not as conciliatory as he would have liked it to be, and she still expresses doubts about Charlie’s character.

  8. “They were not dull people, but they were very much in the grip of life and circumstances.”

    Part 4

    This is Charlie Wales’s view of Lincoln and Marion Peters. It is not exactly a ringing endorsement of them. It suggests that they are not really free; they are unable to escape their somewhat modest circumstances in life. Charlie thinks that Lincoln’s job at the bank is a dead end and would like to help him find a way out of it.

  9. “The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn’t real snow. If you didn’t want it to be snow, you just paid some money.”

    Part  5

    Charlie is alluding to the fact that he locked his wife out of the house, leaving her in the snow (although it appears that he did not realize he was doing so). But what he means is that in 1929, before the stock market crash in October, those who had become rich through stock trading believed they could do almost anything in life, even the seemingly impossible, just because they were wealthy. Money was like magic and could make any problem go away.

  10. “He wasn’t young anymore, with a lot of nice thoughts and dreams to have by himself.”

    Part 5

    These are some of Charlie Wales’s final thoughts in the story. He is thirty-five but he feels his days of youth and happiness are behind him. Now he has again been deprived of custody of Honoria—at least for a time—he feels alone and seemingly without much hope. In the past he had his dreams, but those are harder for him to conceive now. 

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