Free Study Guide: Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank - Free BookNotes|
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ALAS, BABYLON: DOWNLOADABLE BOOK SUMMARY
Before he leaves the admiral’s house, he uses Sam’s typewriter to type up a set of orders that he is issuing under martial law. His first order announces that he has taken command of the town and will be forming a provisional company to protect the town. His second order is to warn the townspeople to boil all water before drinking it to prevent the spread of typhoid. His third order announces that the penalty for robbery or pillage, or complicity in it, is death by hanging.
Randy walks to town and, from there, to Pistolville. Along the way, he sees an armadillo and vaguely remembers that they are edible. He finally reaches Rita’s house and tells her of his plan. She agrees to help him and provides him with a panel van from a grocery store and 17 gallons of gas. Randy drives the van home, planning to cut gun holes in the sides of the van.
Once home, he discusses marriage with Lib and she accepts his somewhat
indirect proposal. The next day is Easter Sunday, and they plan to be
Dan says that typhoid is the evil sister of any disaster. However, typhoid has a twin sister, more visible, but just as vicious. Typhoid’s sister is lawlessness and pillage, and she is often the first of the two sisters to show herself. In Fort Repose, both show up at about the same time. In modern America, typhoid has been largely eliminated, but any disaster, natural or man-made, provides an opportunity for lawlessness, robbery, rape, and pillage.
With the breakdown of civil authority and the absence of any police protection, someone needs to step in and fill the vacuum. With Mrs. Vanbruuker-Brown’s announcement, Randy, as an Air Force Reserve Officer, has the legal authority to take control of the town and issue decrees for the well-being and protection of the town. Randy makes it clear that he is not forming a vigilante group, but a provisional company. Ultimately, the provisional company would surrender power to a legally constituted civil authority once a functioning government is formed.
Rita’s responsiveness to Randy’s plan is unusual. The author does not say
what motivates Rita, who has no reason to help, to provide Randy with
a van and a large amount of gasoline. Nonetheless, she does, and she plays
her role well, providing Randy with a good cover story that will doubtlessly
find its way to the highwaymen. Her generosity is the first time in the
novel when she considers something more than just herself, placing the
town’s good ahead of her own.
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