By The Waters Of Babylon Analysis

Decent Essays

The Dangers of the Truth Which would you value more-knowledge, or truth? Stephen Vincent Benét explores this question in his short story “By the Waters of Babylon”. However, Benét doesn’t answer this question exactly, instead “By the Waters of Babylon” focuses more on a singular theme that knowledge and truth are intertwined. Benét brings the reader into a post-apocalyptic world where humans have resorted to a more primitive state after the “Great Burning”(310). Now the only humans left with any knowledge are the Priests, and John happens to be the son of one. John has been exposed to the only remaining knowledge that he’s been told his society has at that the time and now quest for more. This burning desire that John has to know more of …show more content…

At the realization of the truth, John breaks down and sobs, not only from seeing how his race had been devastated before, but also at the realization that all the knowledge he had gathered as a child was false. In his unyielding desire to learn more, he never thought of what would happen once he gained the knowledge that he wanted, and if he would be satisfied if it revealed something he didn’t want to learn. As both the reader and John begin to understand what this realization on John’s part means Benét’s lesson about truth and knowledge begins to manifest. With the truth of John’s ancestors revealed and how it was discovered that the priests in John’s culture have been proclaiming their knowledge without evidence, the relationship that one cannot have truth without knowledge begins to visualize. Benét doesn’t let this lesson stay one sided though, as if he was trying to portray the priests as only in the wrong, instead Benét writes John’s father to give insight as to why the priests may have lied about what they really knew and didn’t know, and why their ancestors didn’t want the truth to be revealed. John’s father says “Truth is a hard deer to hunt….you may die of the truth” and “He was right-it is better that the truth should come little by little” because John’s father is trying to say that the truth is a dangerous thing (Benét 321). While the truth is important, it can also be damaging if it shouldn’t be taught at the right

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