Free Study Guide: Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank - Free BookNotes|
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ALAS, BABYLON: LITERARY CRITICISM / FREE NOTES
Randy goes to Dr. Gunn’s office, but finds that it had been ransacked. The local police chief and his assistant were killed in the raid, and Dr. Gunn’s partner was fatally wounded. The clinic, raided by drug addicts looking for a fix, is damaged beyond repair and it is abandoned. Randy tells the doctor that he will be moving into Randy’s house.
Randy takes the doctor to the hotel to pack his belongings. Once there, he finds that the residents still believe that the lights and water will soon be working again but, meanwhile, the place is a squalid mess and is ripe for an epidemic. Once an epidemic starts, the doctor will be powerless to do anything about it. Since the residents will not listen to him, he is unable to prevent an epidemic.
That night, “the night of the steak orgy,” they hear a broadcast from Civil Defense headquarters. The government has conducted a preliminary survey of the country and declared certain areas Contaminated Zones. No one is allowed in or out of these zones without going through checkpoints. The broadcaster then lists the zones - the entire state of Florida is a Contaminated Zone. Also listed is Omaha and, with it, any hope of Mark’s survival. Randy then realizes that Fort Repose was a clear island in the midst of a sea of radioactive devastation.
On Thursday, the men extend the artesian well system to the houses of Florence Wechek and Sam Hazzard. On Saturday night, the hotel burns. Without water, there is no way to put out the fire. On Tuesday, the ninth day after "The Day", Lib’s mother dies. All the diabetics in Fort Repose die about the same time as their insulin goes bad due to a lack of refrigeration.
After Randy and Lib’s father bury Lavinia, Randy moves them into his
house. Bill McGovern thinks he has nothing to contribute but, after a
dressing-down by Randy, he sees that he has experience working with tools.
He and Malachi Henry will be the local mechanics.
Saturday morning, after cashing Mark’s check, Randy makes a critical error when he stocks up on fresh steaks rather than canned goods. Having taken Mark’s warning seriously, he should have realized that electricity would not last long, especially if Orlando was hit. He makes another critical mistake when he fails to consider running water, although luck was with him on this matter.
The destruction of the clinic is not surprising. Drug addicts no longer had a source of supply once the war begins and their first target for drugs would be pharmacies and clinics. Once that supply is exhausted, however, their own personal torture would begin. Dan Gunn is not worried about punishing the addicts - “After this big jag,” he says, “they’re bound to have withdrawal sickness. They will die, horribly I hope.”
The list of Contaminated Zones reads like a “Who’s Who” of major industrial, military, and population centers. Given the geography of Florida and the large number of military and industrial centers in the state, it is not surprising that the entire state was placed off-limits.
The filth and squalor of the hotel are also not surprising. Dr. Gunn had predicted an epidemic there, but the fire arrived before the disease. The few survivors were placed in the Fort Repose school. Within a few days, it was worse than the hotel.
Lib McGovern dies nine days after "The Day". Being a diabetic, she
required insulin, and insulin requires refrigeration. Once the power goes
out, the insulin she and other diabetics have on hand will begin to deteriorate.
Without insulin, she slips into a diabetic coma and dies two days later.
One of the prescriptions that Dr. Gunn gave Randy on Saturday was for
a new drug, Oranise, which did not require refrigeration. It would have
to be ordered from a drug house in Orlando since it was too new for the
local pharmacy to stock. Unfortunately, before Dan can get it ordered
and delivered, there was no longer an Orlando.
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. 09 May 2017