The stories “The Gilded Six-Bits” by Zora Neale Hurston and “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald seem to be very different at the first sight. The first one is about the life of two young Afro-Americans who lived happily before meeting a rich white person named Otis D. Slemmons who ruined their family life whereas “Babylon Revisited’ tells us about a man whose wife died and who has a weakness for alcohol has been denied in the custody of his daughter. In fact, these two stories are very similar and one can draw parallels between what happened in Joe and Missy’s life and what problems Charley confronted in his.
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What should be mentioned above all is that in both stories we can trace the connection between scarcity and abundance. In “The Gilded Six-Bits” the young couple, Joe and Missy, had everything to be happy. The most important thing was that their relations were strong and they loved each other: “For several minutes the two were a furious mass of male and female energy. Shouting, laughing, twisting, turning, tussling, tickling each other in the ribs…” (Martha Foley, p. 443). This shows that the two of them were having fun and enjoyed the presence of each other. But Missy, in pursuit of money lost the respect and love of her husband which proves that once you have something added you will definitely lose something because there should be a balance. In “Babylon Revisited” Charley tried to make his financial position better but by achieving this he lost the most precious thing in his life – his family. As a result, his wife died and his daughter was taken away from him. I’m sure that if he had a chance to turn the time he would have chosen to have less money and family instead than to be rich but live all alone as when you have money but nobody to spend them for it becomes of no importance to you because something will be missing in your life anyway. It is the fault of most people. They usually start valuing something when it is already lost. This so-called balance between what you have is there in our lives to make people stop being greedy and to value what they already have rather than trying to get something they are not ready for yet. It is very often that people are driven by a desire to have everything remain with nothing in the end and that is what happened with Charley.
Furthermore, in each story, there is something that causes a problem for the main characters. It is a temptation the characters cannot resist. In “The Gilded Six-Bits” this temptation is money, namely golden money, which Missy cannot resist. Throughout her life, she used only silver money and was absolutely satisfied with it but when she met Otis D. Slemmons she was easily seduced by gold and desire to have it: “Oh Joe, honey, he said he was going just me dat gold money and he jes’ kept on after me…” (Marta Foley, p. 448) which with no doubt spoiled her because the desire to have something you’ve never had before sooner or later predominates over common sense. World literature abounds with stories about the Gold Rush which serve as a vivid example of what gold can do with people that’s why there is no wonder that golden money turned out to be able to seduce Missy. The protagonist of the story “Babylon Revisited” faced a much more serious problem. Alcohol addiction ruined innumerable human lives and in this story, one can observe a perfect example of a person losing the sense of his life, in this case, it is Charley’s daughter because he is not able to give up drinking. On becoming alcohol-addicted people lose everything and only some of them with the help of their friends and relatives manage to cope with the problem of alcoholism. As Charley had friends: “a crowd who had helped them make months into days in the lavish times of three years ago” (Francis Scott Fitzgerald, p. 217) who also were drinking heavily because it was the way of their lives, to quit drinking was difficult for him. Having a reason to do this he almost succeeded in giving up drinking but when the last hopes for getting his daughter back vanished he got back to his friends and his harmful habit which made his life at least a bit easier: “Charley went directly to the Ritz bar with the idea of finding Lorraine and Duncan…” (Francis Scott Fitzgerald, p. 229).
And finally, informal language is used in both of the stories. The descriptive narration in “The Gilded Six-Bits” is done in Standard English. It is not difficult to notice that the dialogues are performed by the characters in American Vernacular English. By confronting the language the characters are speaking and their way of living as well as their mores the author is trying to have the reader make a comparison. What Zora Neale Hurston tried to show is that irrespective of nationality and the level of education all people are equal in their moral values and deserve to have a happy life like everybody else. She tried to show that if your skin is of different color it doesn’t mean that you should demand from a lifeless than the others. As for “Babylon Revisited”, F. Scott Fitzgerald uses an informal style of writing in this work. Here it should be noted that informal language prevails in Fitzgerald’s works and namely this is why in his times it was difficult for him to earn public recognition. The public didn’t take his works seriously because of the informality of the language they were written in. The lexicon of the day makes “Babylon Revisited’ closer to the reader helping him get right into the center of the events and becoming a part of the story. It must be admitted that the style the story is written in is very important for producing a proper impression on the speaker because if the style is chosen incorrectly the author will fail to disclose the sense of his piece of writing to the public.
Despite the similarities between these two stories, there is one difference that is hard to ignore. It lies in the way the stories end. As it is easily understood, “The Gilded Six-Bits” ends happily with Missy having a baby and her husband’s revival of her feelings to her. The forecast for the development of their further relations is pretty favorable. In contrast, the protagonist of the story “Babylon Revisited” does not seem to have a happy life having been denied custody of his daughter and turning to alcohol again trying to ease his pain. This is basically what constitutes the difference between “The Gilded Six-Bits” by Zora Hurston and “Babylon Revisited” by Scott Fitzgerald.
In conclusion, regardless of the fact that people described in these two stories lived in different periods of time, they had similar problems and their own ways to fight them. Both “The Gilded Six-Bits” by Zora Neale Hurston and “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald give a reader a very good lesson of what greediness and alcohol addiction may lead to.
Martha Foley. 200 Years of Great American Short Stories: Edited by Martha Foley. Houghton Mifflin,1975.
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Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Babylon Revisited, and Other Stories. Scribner, 1960.