By the Waters of Babylon



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Name ___________________________________ Period ________ Date ______________
By the Waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincent Benét (p. 42) Study Guide
Fill in the blanks:


  1. The narrator is the ____________________ of a priest.




  1. The priest search for ____________________ in the Dead Places.




  1. It is not fitting that a priest’s son should show ________________________.




  1. When John, the narrator, becomes a man, he goes on a ____________________ to the Places of the Gods.




  1. In the ruined city, John is attacked by ____________________.




  1. John realizes that the dead gods were ____________________.


Short Answers:


  1. In John’s community three things are forbidden. What are they?

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  1. What signs tell John to travel east?

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  1. What appliances does John find in the dead house?

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  1. What does John see in his dream when he is sleeping?

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  1. After he sees the well-preserved dead man sitting in the chair by the window, why is John no longer afraid?

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  1. How does John plan to avoid the mistakes of the past when he begins to rebuild?

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Recognizing Time in Setting

The setting of a story is the time and place in which the story takes place. In “By the Waters of Babylon,” time is the most important part of the setting. There are objects and places in the story that mean different things to the people before the Great Burning and after the Great Burning. For example, the Place of the Gods is the place where Jon and his people believe their gods live; before the Great Burning, the Place of the Gods was New York City.


Complete the following chart. Describe what each object or place meant before the Great Burning and what is means in John’s world.


Object or Place

What it meant in the world before the Great Burning

What it means in John’s world

Example:

The Place of the Gods


New York City



Where the gods live



1. pieces of metal









2. the great river,

Ou-dis-sun











3. buildings too big to be houses









4. a great spike of rusted metal sticking out of the river









5. ASHING









6. a mighty temple in the mid-city with a roof painted like the sky at night with its stars and that goes down into great caves and tunnels









4. the objects marked “hot” and “cold”








How long after the Great Burning do you think this story takes place? Explain your answer.


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