In theory, point of view reveals a perspective from which the narrator tells the story. Analyzing a story’s point of view will provide us with answers to two questions ‘by whom’ and ‘how’ the story is told. By the way, we can also understand attitude of the writer towards his characters as well.
In the case of ‘Babylon Revisited’, the one who tells us this story is a third-person narrator. To be more specific, he is a limited omniscient narrator.Firstly we notice that the narrator addresses the protagonist by name ‘Charlie’ or the third person ‘he’, and also does the same with other characters.
This suggests that he stands somewhere beside the story, witnessing it without participating in it, and then retells us what happended- that is why the narrator is called a ‘third-person’. From the objective point of view of a third person narrator, the story appears to be more all-round and reliable. On the other hand, the narrator in this story is omniscient.Firstly it is because he can read mind of characters. He leads us into Charlie’s thoughts to have a look at his absolutely different life one year and a half ago and also his nostalgia of it; or to see his loss when finding the Ritz bar gloomy and quiet. “Charlie directed his taxi to the Avenue de l’Opera, which was out of his way. But he wanted to see the blue hour spread over the magnificent facade, and imagine that the cab horns, playing endlessly the first few bars of La Plus que Lent, were the trumpets of the Second Empire.
They were closing the iron grill in front of Brentano’s Book-store, and people were already at dinner behind the trim little bourgeois hedge of Duval’s. He had never eaten at a really cheap restaurant in Paris. Five-course dinner, four francs fifty, eighteen cents, wine included. For some odd reason he wished that he had. As they rolled on to the Left Bank and he felt its sudden provincialism, he thought, “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. The narrator knows everything Charlie has in his mind.
Furthermore, the narrator even knows things that Charlie is not aware of. The most important of those is the fact that Charlie left his address for Duncan Schaeffer at the beginning of the text, and forgot about it somewhere between the Ritz bar and the Peters’ house. This one detail opens up the stage for Charlie’s tragic loss of Honoria at the end of the story. Charlie doesn’t remember this detail; he’s left in confusion as to just how Duncan “ferreted out the Peters’ address” while the narrator know it just because of his omniscience.In addition he is not absolutely omnicient: the narrator is limited within Charlie’s perspective. In most of the story, the author describes the surrounding environment from Charlie’s view, and interprets only Charlie’s thoughts. It is an intention of the author to dig deeply into Charlie’s inner life that the narrator focuses only on Charlie’s mental state.
And this confines the narrator to be a limited narrator. However, in a small part of the story, the constant point of view is diverted to another character’s perspective.In the following paragraph, the narrator tells the story from the view of Mrs. Marrion: “With each remark the force of her dislike became more and more apparent. She had built up all her fear of life into one wall and faced it toward him. Marion shuddered suddenly; part of her saw that Charlie’s feet were planted on the earth now, and her own maternal feeling recognized the naturalness of his desire; but she had lived for a long time with a prejudice – a prejudice founded on a curious disbelief in her sister’s happiness, and which, in the shock of one terrible night, had turned to hatred for him.It had all happened at a point in her life where the discouragement of ill health and adverse circumstances made it necessary for her to believe in tangible villainy and a tangible villain“ The oddity in narration does not ruin the flow of the story by interfering with the point of view, but, on the contrary, it contributes considerably to the story because it enhances the reliability.
The story would not be so dramatic if readers could not understand the distrust of Mrs. Marrion in Charlie’s reform. This paragraph keeps readers, who is on Charlie’s side at the first place, doubting about the certainty of his willingness to mend.It also reveals the innermost uncertainty to resist alcohol in the nature of Charlie himself. Such is the great effect that a change in point of view can has on the trend of the story. That is a brief portrait of the narrator who tells us the story of ‘Babylon Revisited’. Another question that we are answering is ‘how’ the story is narrated from his point of view.
The narrator have a vitally important role in choosing what is mentioned during the story. It is because the world emerging in the story is filtered through the point of view of the narrator.In the case of ‘Babylon Revisited’, surrounding environment in the story is imbued with Charlie’s feelings and thoughts. Fitzgerald uses a technique called ‘stream of consciousness technique’ to narrate this mixture of inside and outside world: “He left soon after dinner, but not to go home. He was curious to see Paris by night with clearer and more judicious eyes than those of other days. He bought a strapontin for the Casino and watched Josephine Baker go through her chocolate arabesques. After an hour he left and strolled toward Montmartre, up the Rue Pigalle into the Place Blanche.
The rain had stopped and there were a few people in evening clothes disembarking from taxis in front of cabarets, and cocottes prowling singly or in pairs, and many Negroes. He passed a lighted door from which issued music, and stopped with the sense of familiarity; it was Bricktop’s, where he had parted with so many hours and so much money. A few doors farther on he found another ancient rendezvous and incautiously put his head inside. Immediately an eager orchestra burst into sound, a pair of professional dancers leaped to their feet and a maitre d’hotel swooped toward him, crying, “Crowd just arriving, sir! ” But he withdrew quickly”