Billy Bibbit Quotes & Character Analysis

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  • 0:02 Billy Stutters
  • 1:08 Billy's Mother
  • 2:19 Foreshadowing
  • 2:49 Billy's End
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Billy Bibbit, a patient on Nurse Ratched's ward in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kesey, is close to his mother -- perhaps too close. Encouraged by Randle McMurphy, Billy meets a woman and loses his virginity. This proves to have dire consequences for Billy.

Billy Stutters

Billy Bibbit is a patient in a mental institution in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The ward on which Billy resides is ruled by Nurse Ratched, the head nurse, who specializes in using her patients' weaknesses to control them. Nurse Ratched is a close friend of Billy's mother, who also works in the institution's lobby as a receptionist.

Billy Bibbit's psychological problems manifest themselves as a stutter. Billy reveals in group therapy that he flunked out of college because he had to quit ROTC. ''I c-c-couldn't take it. Wh-wh-wh-whenever the officer in charge of class would call roll, call 'Bibbit,' I couldn't answer.'' He adds, ''You were supposed to say, 'Here sir,' and I never c-c-could get it out.''

Nurse Ratched asks Billy when he first stuttered. ''Fir-first stutter? First stutter? The first word I said I st-stut-tered: m-m-m-m-mam-ma,'' Billy replies.

Billy tells them he had a girlfriend before he entered the hospital. ''And even when I pr-proposed, I flubbed it,'' he says. ''I said, 'Huh-honey, will you muh- muh- muh- muh- muh ...' till the girl broke out l-laughing.''

Billy's Mother

The nurse knows that Billy's psychological issues are connected to his relationship with his mother. She mentions his mother often. Randle McMurphy, a new patient, feels that Nurse Ratched is 'rubbing Billy's nose' in his own weakness.

''Your mother has spoken to me about this girl, Billy,'' Nurse Ratched tells him, referring to the girl Billy used to date. ''Apparently she was quite a bit beneath you.'' The novel offers only a brief glimpse of Billy interacting with his mother, but it is clear that Billy's mother, who wants to keep him completely dependent on her, is unlikely to approve of any girl for Billy.

One day Billy sits with his mother outside, and she tickles his ear as he lies with his head in her lap. Billy tells his mother that he would like to go to college and get married someday. ''Sweetheart, you still have scads of time for things like that,'' Billy's mother tells him. '' Your whole life is ahead of you.'' When Billy replies that he is 31, his mother asks him if she looks like she could be the mother of a middle-aged man.

Chief Bromden, the novel's narrator, overhears this conversation and watches Billy's mother. ''She wrinkled her nose and opened her lips at him and made a kind of wet kissing sound in the air with her tongue, and I had to admit she didn't look like a mother of any kind,'' Bromden observes.


Chief Bromden also reveals that Billy has previously attempted to harm himself, as evidenced by the razor-blade scars on Billy's wrists and the cigarette burns on the back of his hands.

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