By The Waters of Babylon

This short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, is what we call “an Apocalyptic fiction”. It is defined as “a sub-genre of science fiction that is concerned with the end of civilization, through nuclear war, plague, or some other general disaster and Post-apocalyptic fiction is set in a world or civilization after such a disaster” (The Free Dictionary website). Description of the story The story is about a boy called John, who is a son of a priest and he wants to become a priest himself.

He and his tripe are seemed to be living in ancient times of earth with his Primitive tools and simple kind of weapons. John and his people were living with a kind of Taboos about the “forbidden Dead Places” ,where no one has gone before. John wanted to learn more about the Mighty Gods and wanted to go on a journey to discover the knowledge he seeks. After 8 days trip, he reached the ruins of the Gods’ city, he then got the unbelievable truth about what happened in the earlier past times. The war between Gods destroyed the earth.

Gods were fighting for power even though they had all the knowledge they needed . John was amazed of what he discovered and how those “Gods” were just humans as he and his people were. They were Only human with ultimate uncontrolled powers that caused Armageddon. John was afterward the truth and when he realized what really happened ,he returned to his father to tell what he saw. Meanings beyond the story The story begins with a high level of Ambiguity that keeps the reader asking, “What has really happened?

” John was searching for knowledge and he realized that this is a hard way to go . The language used in the story feel strange on ears with different kinds of enchanted words and magic fever shown in it. The description of the forbidden lands and the legends describing what has happened there, are similar for the destruction made by atomic bombs on Japan . If we put in mind that this story was first published on 1937, before any kind of evidence on using the atomic bombs in World War 2 on Japan, so it is obvious that Benet had a great vision or fear of what may happened.

Through a spiritual vision, John realized what really happened and even though he believed that knowledge is a great gift that only Gods may have and may give little bit of it to human ,who really worth to know, but it may also be a deadly weapons if it is not used in a proper ways. The peak of the story was at the point when John visited one of what he called “place of Gods” and there he saw a dead “God”, who was returned to be only a human just like him. A dead body of one of the victims. He died watching the civilization dying too.

Knowing that the disaster happened on Earth-Our Earth- gives us a sign that it may also happen to us. With all the misused weapons and technology what protects us from being a victim for a great disaster and becoming “Dead Gods” for upcoming poor foolish civilization? John returned to his land and told his father what he has seen there and that he knew what really happened. He wanted to tell the truth for every one, but his father told him not to tell all the truth at once, it may be lethal. Telling the truth is best little by little.

John’s father “The Priest” and every one like him ,who were in charge may tried to hide the truth beyond the magic and spells and forbidden lands to prevent the humanity from making the same mistake and destroy itself, but in my opinion, Knowing the truth of what happened may prevent another disaster. Recommendation This short story is defined as children readings, but it has a deep meaning inside and between lines. I recommend this story for elder children and adults. It’s good also in high school literature classes.


Apocalyptic definition. Retrieved August 30, 2007, from The free dictionary web site Web site: http://encyclopedia. thefreedictionary. com/apocalyptic David Garrett Izzo, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina. ” Stephen Vincent Benet. “The literary Encyclopedia. 17 Feb. 2005. The literary Dictionary Company. 30 August 2007. < http://www. litencyc. com/php/speople. php? rec=true&UID=354> Benet, S. By the Waters of Babylon. Retrieved August 30, 2007, Web site: <http://www. cds. caltech. edu/~shane/text/babylon2. html >

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