Complete summary of Stephen Vincent Benét’s By the Waters of Babylon. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of By the Waters of Babylon. The great river in the story “By the Waters of Babylon” is the Hudson River. The Hudson River is the river separating parts of New York from New Jersey. This lesson provides a summary and analysis of Stephen Vincent Benet’s ‘By the Waters of Babylon.’ The story focuses on the dangers of knowledge.

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The story was written intwo years before the Manhattan Project started, and eight years before there was widespread public knowledge of the project. I had stepped out of my body—I could see my body asleep in front of the cold fire, but it was not I. They ran about like ants in the streets of their city—poor gods, byy gods!

And the magic tools are broken—but we can look at them and wonder.

Surely it was enough to spend the night upon the cliff. John tells us again that he felt his spirit being drawn out of his body, adding that he could look down and see his body lying in the room below. When I thought of it, my tongue felt dry in my throat, in spite of my wish for knowledge.

Benet’s work in any more detail unless somebody tells me otherwise. They had turned night to day for their pleasure-they did not sleep with the sun. Of course, the critics raved and it was put into high school English anthologies. Yet, genet this moment, Wategs does not feel brave.

I liked wqters the author made the story seem ominous and suspenseful. He was sitting looking out over the city—he was dressed in the clothes of the gods. Dec 03, Jeremy rated it it was amazing. Hard to believe it’s such an old story. It was fire falling out of the beneg and a mist that poisoned. Nor were there many trees in that wilderness of stone. It is not true benst, what some of our priests say, that it is an island covered with fogs bqbylon enchantments.


I had saved my bow and two arrows and the knife I found in the Dead Place but that was all. John tells us that, if his spirit had been in his body when he had this vision, he believes that he would have died of shock. But when I started to climb down, I heard the squeaking of rats, so I did not go—rats are unclean, and there must have been many tribes of them, from the squeaking.

It is not true what some of the tales say, that the ground there beneg forever, for I have been there. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. That was a sight indeed—yes, that was a sight: John does not explain to the reader what the signs he sees mean, or why they are trustworthy or untrustworthy.

He slams the door behind him, shutting the dogs outside. I was taught how to read in the old books and how to make the old writings—that was hard and took a long time. Its name is Ou-dis-sun, the Sacred, the Long.

As the words come to life, students will develop a lasting appreciation for great literature. If I had slept later, they would have come upon me asleep and torn out my throat.

His studies were interrupted by a year of civilian military service; he worked as a cipher-clerk in the same department as James Thurber.


Superstition, Magic, and Technology. How shall I tell what I saw? The Place of the Gods has very few trees: There was no strength in my knowledge any more and I felt small and naked as a new-hatched bird—alone upon the great river, the servant of the gods.

By the Waters of Babylon – Wikipedia

LitCharts uses cookies to personalize our services. John believes that being fearless in the face of death is a holy quality and the mark of a true priest. It seems that finding out that it takes place in the future By the Waters oc Babylon is a post-apocalyptic short story written in My students love how organized the handouts are and enjoy tracking the themes as a class. He seems particularly struck by painting of flowers that appears blurry and awters when viewed up close, but looks realistic when viewed from far away.

Benwt 04, Rana Osama rated it it was ok. I bought this book without realising that it is VERY short. At night, I would lie awake and listen to the wind—it seemed to me that it was the voice of the gods as they flew through the air. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

By the Waters of Babylon

Themes and Colors Key. But this was not like that. John describes a narrow room with bronze doors without handles and, apparently, no way of being opened. I do not understand—they had ways—I wish that I knew. If they eat you, you are still my son. Restless, restless, were the gods and always in motion!