Baylor College Medical School

5. By the water of babylon by stephen vincent benet

5. Can you please tell me at what point in the story that one could begin to figure out what the Place of the Gods was? And can you please explain how one reached this conclusion?

Asked by
Last updated by dj i #345926
Answers 4
Add Yours

The Place of the Gods is New York City many years from now. The city had long since been destroyed, and the Hill People believed its inhabitants were gods. The Priests forbid anyone going to the city because they didn't want the people to find out there were no gods, as their society was based upon god worship.

What do you mean by "how one reached this conclusion?"

The instructor asked if one can explain how you knew the answer to the first question at what point in the story that one could begin to figure out what the Place of the Gods were.

The text reads;

"The towers are not all broken—here and there one still stands, like a great tree in a forest, and the birds nest high. But the towers themselves look blind, for the gods are gone. I saw a fishhawk, catching fish in the river. I saw a little dance of white butterflies over a great heap of broken stones and columns. I went there and looked about me—there was a carved stone with cut—letters, broken in half. I can read letters but I could not understand these. They said UBTREAS. 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, as I read on the cracked half of a stone. I thought it wise to pray to ASHING, though I do not know that god."

Although some people believe that the "city" may have been different than NYC; the following hints have caused people to believe that it is......

Ou-dis-sun is believed to be the Hudson River.

A statue with the word "ASHING" is believed to be George Washington.

A building marked "UBTREAS" is thought to be the United States Sub-Treasury building.

John walks through a building marked by stars on the ceiling and inside of its tunnels. This is assumed to be the Grand Central Terminal.

The location is Manhattan Island. The "bitter water" named "Ou-dis-sun" is the Hudson River, bitter because of its salt water. "Ou-dis-sun" would be a futuristic corruption of "Hudson."

The statue of "Ashing" near a building labeled "UBTREAS" would be the remains of the statue of George Washington that presently stands in the middle of the steps in front of the Subtreasury building near the intersection of Wall and Nassau Streets in the Financial District of lower Manhattan. The statue, with its right arm extended and right hand posed as if resting on the Bible, marks the spot on which, in 1789, Washington was sworn in as the nation's first president .


Sources: My elementary school class trip to Wall Street, the Subtreasury and Fraunces Tavern in the 1960s.