What is the setting of this story? What are the Dead Places?



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  1. What is the setting of this story?




  1. What are the Dead Places?




  1. What are the Places of the Gods?




  1. How does John’s tribe view the Dead Places?




  1. Why does the narrator of “By the Waters of Babylon” visit the Place of the Dead even though visits are forbidden?




  1. Give one quote from “By the Waters of Babylon” that helps you identify John as the story’s first-person narrator.



  1. Give one detail from “By the Waters of Babylon” about which the reader has more knowledge than John does.



  1. What truth is revealed at the end of the story? Who sees the truth? Who does not? (Consider the narrator, the story’s characters, and the reader.)



  1. What is ironic about the story’s ending?



  1. “By the Waters of Babylon” takes place after an event called the Great Burning. Based on details toward the end of the story, what is the Great Burning? Provide one detail from the story to support your answer.



  1. Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan was used when New York City was briefly the U.S. capital. It later served as one of six U.S. subtreasury buildings. What detail in “By the Waters of Babylon” does this information help explain?



  1. Whom does the shattered stone statue labeled ASHING represent?



  1. In “By the Waters of Babylon,” how is John’s society different from the one that came before it?

    1. Priests govern the society.

    2. Technology is more advanced.

    3. People eat only plants.

    4. There is no warfare.



  1. In “By the Waters of Babylon,” why does John go to the Place of the Gods?

  1. to become more powerful

  2. to seek knowledge

  3. to find metal

  4. to anger his father



  1. In “By the Waters of Babylon,” John sees the city “as it had been when the gods were alive.” What is he seeing?

  1. a view of another planet

  2. New York City as it had been

  3. the future

  4. a myth



  1. In “By the Waters of Babylon,” what does John finally realize about the gods?

  1. They did not know how to read.

  2. They used magic to cook and wash.

  3. They still lived in the city.

  4. They were people.



  1. What creates irony in “By the Waters of Babylon”?

  1. John finally understands the truth about the gods.

  2. John goes to the Place of the Gods even though it is forbidden.

  3. The narrator knows more about the “Place of the Gods” than the reader does.

  4. The reader knows more about the “Place of the Gods” than John does.



  1. In “By the Waters of Babylon,” which period represents “the beginning of time” for John’s society?

  1. before the evolution of the human species

  2. before the onset of the Industrial Revolution

  3. after human beings learned to use fire

  4. after the destruction of modern civilization



  1. John’s references to gods and magic in “By the Waters of Babylon” suggest that

  1. John is young.

  2. his people lack knowledge of technology.

  3. the People of the Hills are social outcasts.

  4. the Great Burning was a recent event.



  1. What conclusion can be drawn from this passage from “By the Waters of Babylon”? There was also the shattered image of a man or a god. It had been made of white stone and he wore his hair tied back like a woman’s. His name was ASHING. . . .

  1. The image is a statue of Washington.

  2. The gods had a leader named ASHING.

  3. Some people considered Washington a god.

  4. The gods had greater respect for men than for women.



  1. John’s discovery that the “gods” were men makes him realize that

  1. he can no longer be considered a priest.

  2. his people are capable of similar feats.

  3. New York City was once a sacred place.

  4. the Hill People are completely insignificant.



  1. Which sentence best reflects the point of view in “By the Waters of Babylon”?

  1. The north and the west and the south are good hunting ground. . . .

  2. It is eight suns’ journey to the east and a man passes by many Dead Places.

  3. After a time, I myself was allowed to go into the dead houses and search for metal.

  4. There was a washing-place but no water—perhaps the gods washed in air.



  1. The point of view used in “By the Waters of Babylon” causes the reader to

  1. strongly identify with John.

  2. judge the narrator to be ignorant.

  3. believe in magic.

  4. see the world in a new way


24. Directions: Write out one direct quote piece of evidence from “By the Waters of Babylon” that correspond with the plot points above.


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