Babylon Revisited

Toys Symbol Icon

Charlie desperately wants to be more present in Honoria’s life. However, because he lives far away and sees her so rarely, he’s limited in the ways he is able to feel intimate with her. The primary way Charlie shows his affection for Honoria in “Babylon Revisited” is by buying her toys, but Honoria sees the gifts her father gives her for what they are: an inadequate material substitute for her father’s presence in her life. The toys, therefore, symbolize the estrangement of Charlie and Honoria’s relationship, despite that they both want to be closer to one another. In a broader sense, Charlie’s anger about only being able to give Honoria toys when he wants to give her love and family echoes his ambivalence toward wealth in general. On the one hand, he’s glad to be able to give Honoria gifts, but on the other hand he recognizes that the things he most wants cannot be purchased. Just as he boasts about his wealth to show Marion Peters that he can provide for Honoria better than she can, he uses toys to show his daughter that he cares, but in both cases, money alone fails to reassure others that he can be a responsible father, and it fails to get him what he wants, which is a family.

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Toys Symbol Timeline in Babylon Revisited

The timeline below shows where the symbol Toys appears in Babylon Revisited. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 2
Wealth and Poverty Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
...the old days. Over lunch, he tells Honoria he’s going to take her to the toy store to buy her anything she wants and then to a vaudeville show. Honoria protests... (full context)
Section 5
Wealth and Poverty Theme Icon
Home and Family Theme Icon
Transformation and Redemption Theme Icon
Alcohol, Immoderation, and Collapse Theme Icon
...Charlie thinks about how tomorrow he’ll try to help the situation by sending Honoria some toys, but it makes him angry that all he can do is give his daughter material... (full context)