I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've only recently acquainted myself with Fitzgerald's work. Because of this unacceptable gap in my literary knowledge, I've recently devoted myself to reading Fitzgerald whenever possible. One of his short stories that struck me was "Babylon Revisited." Set in Paris after the stock market crash of 1929, "Babylon Revisited" tells the tale of Charlie Wales, a 35-year-old widower, and his quest to regain the guardianship of his 9-year-old daughter. Charlie is a recovering alcoholic, trying to bounce back from the hedonistic lifestyle he led during the Roaring Twenties that ultimately ended in the death of his wife. Much of the story consists of Charlie regretting his past actions and wondering when he'll be freed from their unfortunate consequences.
What I enjoy about Fitzgerald's writing is how accurately it reflects reality when it comes to human emotions. Charlie struggles with the fact that he has to keep paying for his mistakes even though, in his mind, he has repented enough by changing his lifestyle. However, the truth is that sometimes even if you try your best, your best isn't good enough to be rewarded, and this is what I think Fitzgerald shows in this story. I feel like while this is accurate, it is a difficult truth to accept, because it's part of human nature to want one's efforts to be recognized and appreciated. In showing these emotions in Charlie, Fitzgerald depicts the feelings of the general American public at the time as well. Following the financial repercussions of the crash, most Americans would have regretted the extravagant lives they led during the 1920s. However, their regret, no matter how genuine, wasn't enough to change the circumstances, as evidenced the Great Depression the followed. "Babylon Revisited" is a reminder of this harsh reality.