How many miles to Babylon – Relationships

Two types:

  1. 1.     Family
  • Alec Moore
  • Frederick Moore
  • Alicia Moore
  1. 2.     Friendship
  • Alec Moore
  • Jerry Crowe


  • The family atmosphere in Alec’s life is negative.
  • Frederick and Alicia are in a loveless marriage and Alicia openly treats her husband with disrespect, “I have no intention in remaining in the house alone with you”.
  • Alec himself makes reference to the fact that the only thing his parents had in common was “the child”. The use of the child suggests a detachment from the familiar.
  • Alicia is clearly the dominant figure “the winner was always the same”. This quote is in relation to his parent’s arguments and the fact his mother always won.
  • This idea is enhanced when Frederick suggests Alicia has manipulated the doctor to say what she wants to hear.
  • Alicia becomes an obstacle to Alec and Jerry’s friendship as she disapproves and tries to end it. The trip to Europe is one attempt she makes at preventing the development of a relationship between the two boys.
  • Alicia also forbids Alec from seeing Jerry.
  • Alicia sends her only son to war and there is a suggestion from Frederick that she is only doing it to hurt him. There is also the possibility that Mrs Moore wants the prestige of have her son going to war to fight for honour.


  • Alec is home schooled and has no opportunity to make friends as he grows up.
  • Alec meets Jerry and we can clearly see that they are from different class backgrounds.
  • The boys meet at the lake and they swim together and from here their friendship blooms.
  • Alec knows that Jerry’s background is an issue and Alec refers to Jerry as “a private and secret friend”.
  • Jerry also understands the importance of keeping the friendship secret “Your lot would care. My lot too…”
  • It is their interest in horses that helps their friendship develops. They build jumps and have a type of secret riding school.
  • Alec suggests that they work together when they are older. Jerry goes alone with the plan but is more of a realist and sees that such a plan would not be easy “You’re a great one for thinking things will be easy”.
  • As the story develops both men grow a deep affection for each other.
  • Jerry brings love and life to Alec’s existence.
  • Jerry could be seen to be influential to Alec as Alec takes on many of Jerry’s ideas and beliefs.
  • Both characters show a deep trust for one another and share their problems seeking advice and comfort.
    • Family issues
    • Sexual issues
    • Beliefs
  • The war should have separated the characters but it helps to bring them closer.
  • Despite Major Glendinning’s attempts he cannot separate both men.
  • When Jerry leaves to find his father Alec tries his best to cover for him.
  • When Jerry returns with bad news and awaiting troubles Alec does his best to comfort him.
  • Alec’s last act of friendship is to save his friend form the indignity of having to face a firing squad. Alec treats his friend with comfort and compassion.

52 thoughts on “Relationships

    • Jerry and Alec around the time they first met planned on going into business together training and racing horses. When Alec returns to Ireland from traveling Europe his first meeting with Jerry races a horse to victory. From this we can gather that Jerry has held on to his dream of horse racing and training.

      Jerry also requests to join the horse ranks in the army and is told no. This develops on the idea that he is still desires to work with horses.

      When Jerry returns and tells Alec that his father is dead, Alec tries to console him and make him feel happier by discussing their future. This again includes the horses.

      From this we have to conclude that Jerry had intended to go into working with horses on some level whether racing, owning, training or all three.

      There is a hint that Jerry also planned to join the IRA at some point after the war.

      Hope that what you need. If you need more or were looking for something completely different just message me again.

  1. I was wondering could you give me some notes on how Alec was feeling when Alicia tells him that Fredrick Moore might not be his father ?

    • Alec never really reveals his true feelings. Being male and growing up in an emotionally restricted household means he does not know how to express his feelings.

      He does:
      Go to the lake to think showing that he is upset over his mothers comments.

      He confides in Jerry how he is going to go to war the next morning and avoid his father. This shows that he is clearly upset and the idea to avoid his father shows he believes his mother to some extent.

      Jerry tells him that Alicia was more than likely lying and Alec seems to accept this explanation as he does not avoid his father.

      What this does do is turn Alec against his mother even more.

      Pg 46 to 56

  2. Could you please do notes on the broken and damaged relationship between Alec and Jerry? The theme i am doing is broken and damaged relationship so I would have to show how their relationship is broken and damaged.

    • Their relationship is not broken or damaged. I would think that you are to use this text as the opposite to your others. It’s Alec’s family relationships that are broken. It’s hard to know what to do as I do not know your other texts but Alec and Jerry are the only stable relationship in this text

    • I believe Alicia to be very bitter with the way her life has progressed and has set her focus on Alec helping to improve her social standing in a class driven society.
      1. Alicia clearly shows a dislike for her husband when she does not want to remain in the house alone with him. We believe her here to be the main antagonist of the text. However she does admit to Alec that she did try in the beginning with Fredrick. Knowing how emotionally restricted Fredrick is with Alec as he leaves for war and Fredrick’s failure to confront his wife on any point, we have to ask, has Alicia given up and become bitter living with a man that never challenges her and rarely converses with her throughout the text. Alicia does not cover herself in any glory and is clearly a negative person and influence on the family but is there a deeper reason behind it all.
      2. Alicia clearly desires high standing in the society she lives in. When recounting the story of another Lady’s son from a high social background the tragedy is not at the forefront of her mind. Alicia’s focus is on the raise in social standing having a son at war fighting and willing to die. Having given up on the possibility of a happy family she entertains herself in competition with other Lady’s for status. Alec becomes a pawn in this to the point she tries to destroy his relationship with Fredrick by claiming Fredrick is not his father. At no point does she consider their feelings.
      3. I would argue that Alicia knows her existence is limited and her life uneventful and insignificant and this has made her bitter. I believe her insignificant life is revealed in her disappearance from the second half of the text. The role of women was limited in this period historically and Alicia could be a social commentary on this.

    • Fredrick is emotionally restricted and weak.
      . Never expresses true emotion
      . Fails in the stereotypical role of the man by having no control in the family unit
      . Weakness results in the loss of his son physically and emotionally

  3. alec learns many bitter lessons about social position, duty and friendship…please could someone write a paragraph on each for me by given reasons based on the novel. thx

  4. alec learns many bitter lessons about social position,duty and friendship….so can someone please give me some details on each in paragraphs based on the novel. thx

    • Look in the section on Alec himself. Alicia, Fredrick and Glendinning teach him that social conformity is central to society. Jerry teaches Alec that he can find friendship in a world that fails to understand him. He also learns that duty is harsh and needs a tough stance like Glendinning but Alec also fails in this

    • The strain on the relationship is Alicia and glendinnings efforts to put a stop to the relationship. Going to war is an attempt to get away from Alicia’s influence but they never overcome the strain as the only way of escaping the pressure is death for both characters

      • Sorry this is very rough I have not had a chance to get at this yet:

        Key moments:
        • Pg 154/5: Alec loses hope from shooting Jerry – Jerry discusses their future together and then by shooting him we see that this future dies with Jerry. In shooting Jerry Alec assigns himself to the firing squad essentially killing himself in the process.
        • P25: Alicia tells Alec he cannot be friends with Jerry – “And you won’t go off looking for that boy down the village” Alicia putting a barrier up between Alec and Jerry. The use of the word “that” shows an element of class distinction.
        • Pg 7: “Doctor Desmond will say anything you want him to say” Helps to develop Alicia’s dominant character.
        • Pg 108: “The likelyhood is that neither you nor I nor Jerry will ever see home again” Bennett has lost all hope of them surviving the war. Social commentary on the tragic loss of human life in war.
        • Pg???: “You never were much good at it anyway” Alicia tells Alec to stop singing. Cements in the readers eye Alec not having an emotional connection with his mother. This has a knock on effect of Alec having to break down social barriers for his emotional connection with Jerry
        • Pg152/3: “There’s no hope for Jerry?” “None whatsoever”. Loss of hope for Jerry and shows by use of the question mark that Alec wants some hope in a time of hopelessness. Creation of the dark setting “it was late and very dark when I reached the detention camp”. Negative language helps to create the negative mood, tone, atmosphere.
        • Pg46: “Suppose he was not your father”. Alicia tries to break Alec emotionally and force him to go off to war by destroying his relationship with Fredrick. Also a method of separating Alec and Jerry. Shows Alicia’s manipulative character. “She turned away from me as she spoke the words”, Gives the idea of Alec losing his family. Compounds Alec’s isolation.
        • Pg??? Refusal to allow Jerry to work with the horses in war by Glendinning. Regardless of ability social background dictates your life. Social commentary
        • P155: “I shut my own eyes and pulled with my finger”. Alec closes his eyes to the world that he has decided to leave behind plunging himself into darkness as he kills his friend.
        • P30: “You do what your mother tells you my boy that’s the way…. yes” Fredrick backing up the point that Alec should not see Jerry. Shows how powerful the class system is in the society they live in. Two characters that dislike each other only agree once in this text and it is on this point.
        • Pg???: Alec makes friends with Bennett. Alec is socially awkward in a society that focuses on implementing a class division. Bennett clearly shows he does not focus on class division and therefore Alec befriends him. This shows Alec could function in an equal society cementing the idea that an unequal society destroys him.
        • Pg7: “Mr. Bingham is more than adequate”. The word adequate is key showing satisfactory education rather than exemplary education is not the issue but rather her relationship with her husband.
        • Pg 67: “Sure you don’t want the motor. Quite sure” Exemplifies the distance that has grown between Alec and Fredrick as a result of Alicia’s actions. Emphasising Alec’s desire to escape from this dysfunctional situation.

    • I am unsure what you mean by sexual issues.

      Jerry shows clear sexual desire when he remarks if it is wrong for him to look at his sisters

      Alec seems asexual as he shows no desire for any sexual contact at all.

      Have you anything specific in mind

  5. Sorry to bother you but would you have any information about the choices and decisions the characters made? Eg. Are the decisions of an altruistic or selfish nature? What factors underscore the decisions? Are there winners or losers in the decisions made?

    • All decisions made within the text are selfish.

      Anything Alicia does is for her own personal gain.

      Anything Alec does is for his own personal development and his search for love and happiness. Defying his mother and Glendinning is for his own happiness. Regardless of our feelings formed of Glendinning he is still the commanding officer and Alec disobeys direct orders for his own personal fulfilment.

      Factors underscoring decisions; Alec seeks love and companionship; Alicia seeks status having given up on love

      No one wins in this text.Alec loses his friend and his life. Alicia loses her son and status as you remember Alec mode of death means shame will be brought on the family.

  6. Hi, would you have any more information about the relationship of Alec and Alicia? This topic seems to come up nearly every year and I’m really struggling with it. Thanks in advance 🙂

    • The effect is he goes to war so as not to have to face him anymore. Their last moment together shows the awkwardness

  7. Hi could you please put up a paragraph on what you find most interesting about Major Glendinning. I’m sorta struggling on this. thnx 🙂

    • What’s most interesting about him is his cold demeanour. You have to look at his role. He is very aggressive but at times in his position it is necessary. He did have the lives of a lot of men under his control

    • Two key moments 1 Jerry deciding to go so Alec decides to go with him and 2 Alicia telling Alec that Fredrick might not be his father

  8. Does the novel show that real friendship is more important than anything else? Give reasons for you answer.
    I’m struggling with this q. about whether to say yes or no and what reason to give for either ans. Could you help? Thank u.

    • You who’d have to agree. Alec never receives actual love or companionship from anyone in his life. He is miserable from start to finish. He is only happy when he is with Jerry. The loss of Jerry leaves him with nothing so he gives up on his life. True friendship gave him a reason to exist

  9. How do you do a question which states that if you could meet a character from the novel who would you choose and what would you say and what would you ask them?
    This came up in my mocks and I didn’t lay it out properly. Any tips on how to ans these?

    • I would choose Alicia. You focus on the comment she made about how she tried to love Fredrick once. Then look at asking her why this changed focusing on how horrible she has become towards him.

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