Charlie as the Victim of Circumstance in F. Scott Fitzgerald's Babylon Revisited

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Charlie as the Victim of Circumstance in F. Scott Fitzgerald's Babylon Revisited

The story's protagonist, Charlie Wales, is less a victim of bad luck than of circumstance, both socio-economic and personal. Charlie does not deserve Marion's continued denial of custody of his daughter, but the story is less about what Charlie does or does not deserve than how easily one's life can spin out of control due to unforeseen circumstance.

Marion and Charlie dislike each other on a visceral level. Marion's feelings are not solely caused by Charlie's alcoholism and past behavior. She focuses upon Charlie a hatred borne of her resentment of her family's financial situation, as evidenced by Lincoln's comment to Charlie over lunch: "I think
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13-14) For her, Charlie was the embodiment of that villain. Though the argument that resulted in the incident was the fault of both parties, Marion is unwilling or unable to consider Helen an equal party to Charlie's excesses. Marion's hatred of Charlie makes it impossible for her to impartially judge his attempts to rebuild his life. When she questions, "How long are you going to stay sober, Charlie?" (p. 12) at dinner the first evening of his return, her behavior is colored by her ill feelings toward her brother-in-law, but her concern for his willingness to stay sober is valid and understandable given Charlie's past behavior and her genuine concern for Honoria's best interests. His continued separation from Honoria is wrenching, but Marion's resistance to relinquishing custody, though partially fuelled by her hatred of Charlie, is also motivated by her fondness for her niece.

Charlie's longing for a life with Honoria is almost palpable throughout the story. Even though he seems drawn to visit his old haunts, he resists any temptation to fall back into his old habits. He is imprudent to leave Lincoln's address with Alix, the barman at the Ritz, to give to Duncan Schaeffer, but Duncan is a friend from college and the urge to see someone familiar is perhaps understandable given Charlie's loneliness. Charlie's visits to old, familiar places in Paris are perhaps more an