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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They were men who were here before us.

But there was wisdom in his face and great sadness. But it was no better written and no more imaginative than many stories ov had already been published. What is happiness to the gods? The author was, admittedly, a more accomplished stylist than most of his contemporary science fiction writers and, not having to write for mass-market publication, could allow himself more f ‘Mainstream’ author Benet visits a theme — a post-apocalyptic world — already commonplace in the speculative fiction genres.

John fully comes of age, and his declaration to his father shows that he, like the dead god presumablyno longer fears death.

By the Waters of Babylon

Most of all, I liked to hear of the Old Days and the stories of the gods. I bought this book without realising that it is VERY short. John has distinguished spirit and body before, but now his spirit is physically separated from his body. It did not have the smell of man, though there were old bones in a corner.


I woke in the midst of the night.

We do not even say its name though we know its name. There should have been the wailings of spirits and the shrieks of demons, but there were not. What else can be said about this amazing story by Stephen Vincent Benet. When the night came, I made my fire and roasted meat.

As it was, they were sure enough of me; they did not hurry. I saw a fishhawk, catching fish in the river. He laughs at how the Forest People eat grubs, and boasts that the Hill People spin wool into yarn and preserve old writings, and that their priests dress in white robes all these qualities differentiating them from the Forest people. As he explores the apartment, John finds the dead god sitting in a chair by the window, as if he is looking out over the city.

So he knew that I was truly his son and would be a priest in my time. The twist in this story is so great, and if you discover it on your own before the end of the story, the payoff is even better.

There tthe the great river below, like a giant in the sun. They follow daters rules, while John tje with very few of them.

By the Waters of Babylon Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

He graduated from Yale insubmitting his third volume of poems in place of a thesis. John seems bby by his own puzzlement, too—even though he is a priest and the son of a priest, he finds he cannot completely understand his vision or the things in the apartment. Which guides should we add?

  JIS D1601 PDF

I know that I felt myself drawn as a fish is drawn on a line. I have always thought about that. However, John wants more than that, he wants to accomplish what his spirit want, and it is something very risky that no one in the post-apocalyptic world that he lives in has done before view spoiler [ go into the Place of the Gods hide spoiler ]. If the hunters think we do all things by chants and spells, they may believe so—it does not hurt them. Superstition, Magic, and Technology.

Nov 30, Danae rated it it was ok. John wishes he understood the magic that once made these things function. John weeps as he builds the raft he will use to cross the river to the Place of the Gods, paints his body for death, and says funerary prayers. He seems particularly struck by painting of flowers that appears blurry and abstract when viewed up close, but looks realistic when viewed from far away.