Complete summary of Stephen Vincent Benét’s By the Waters of Babylon. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of By the Waters of Babylon. The great river in the story “By the Waters of Babylon” is the Hudson River. The Hudson River is the river separating parts of New York from New Jersey. This lesson provides a summary and analysis of Stephen Vincent Benet’s ‘By the Waters of Babylon.’ The story focuses on the dangers of knowledge.

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It seems that finding out that it takes place in the future is supposed to be a big surprise, and for the time I suppose that it might have been, but it just seems obvious to the modern reader. It is very long, very wide. John also describes objects that he believes were once imbued with magic: It went down into great caves and tunnels—perhaps they kept their slaves there.

When John is no longer a boy, he tells his father that he is ready to go on his journey, a quest that will mark his initiation as a man and a priest within the tribe.

By the Waters of Babylon – Wikipedia

But there was wisdom in his face and great sadness. The lock of it was broken and I opened it and went in. After he learns that the gods were, in fact, human, John tells us that he lost all of his fear.


The bones are light and old—sometimes they will fall into dust if you touch them. Toward the setting of the eighth sun, I came to the banks of the great river. What I love about this story is how well Benet convinces you in the beginning that you are reading a story from an ancient time, as opposed to what the story really is: The peripheral presence of the Forest People is a reminder that that John is not entirely safe.

But near there, I found food, in the heart of a ruin, behind a door that still opened. Restless, restless, were the gods and always in motion!

When I thought of it, my tongue felt dry in my throat, in spite of my wish for knowledge. It had been made of white stone and he wore his hair tied back like a woman’s. Though the body is surprisingly well-preserved, John believes that if he touches him, the body will crumble into dust.

By the Waters of Babylon

When a god or a demon saw me, then I would die, but meanwhile I was no longer afraid. What else can be said about this amazing story by Stephen Vincent Benet. Oct 04, Rana Osama babylin it it was ok. His age was neither young nor old—I could not tell his age. I have been in the Place of the Gods and seen it!


I went there and looked about me—there was a carved stone with cut—letters, broken in half. Nevertheless, it was strange.

If I had come there, a god, I also would have built. He asked me how the gods were dressed and I told him how they were dressed. He wasn’t anything to write home about.

By the Waters of Babylon

He was a big dog, with a gray-brown coat, as big as a wolf. But it is not fitting that a priest’s son should show fear. It was just kinda blah. I did not like that.

Benett by saying so, John breaks the final taboo of the tribe he has already traveled east, crossed the river, and visited the Place of the Godssymbolically moving into a new era.

There is some rather silly and heavy-handed moralizing. The Forest People themselves do not come near. You could see that he would have not run away.

May 21, Juan Antonio rated it really liked it. Now, though, I had long gone past what was forbidden, and I entered the likeliest towers, looking for the food of the gods.