Billy The Baby Bibbit: A Prime Example of Lost Potential
What are you most afraid of in this world? For the character Billy Bibbit, in Ken Keseys novel One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, he is terrified of living on the outside world on his own; Billy is at least 30 years old. Most people would absolutely hate to live in a mental institution but for Billy it is the safest place, in his mind. Why would he want to stay in such an awful place? Billy Bibbit is undervalued in this novel because he is a perfect example of how some patients need the mental institution and are not ready for the outside world.
Billy Bibbit is an extremely shy patient and has a terrible stutter whenever he talks to people. Billys mother did everything she could do to make Billy dependant on her and not let him grow up like a normal man should. His mother is close friends with Nurse Ratchet so she is constantly up to date on Billy and what he is doing. Before McMurphy got to the ward, Billy would act in a very adolescent fashion and he would also cut or burn himself. He looks at Billy with one eye, and Billy nods his head up and down real fast: Billys tickled with all the attention hes getting (21). Billy would look upon McMurphy as a Christ like figure by the end of the novel and it could be because of that reason that he commits suicide because he wanted to give penance for betraying McMurphy. Do you think that if Billy could live a normal life outside of the ward he would?
If McMurphy did not understand why the patients have voluntarily stayed on the ward before Billy committed suicide then he surely must have after. Billy just simply was not ready to live anywhere else but on the ward or with his mother but I would not say it was his fault that he is like that. Billys mother raised him in such a way that he became deeply dependant on her even after Billy turned thirty years old and he always did what he did based on how he thought his mother would think of him. Lack of skill and lack of experiences in Billys life are a big reason he is still on the ward. If Billys mother always kept him at home and never let him do anything, how could Billy ever learn anything he needed to know to live as an adult? Pitiful and pathetic, Billy never gets a chance to live a normal life because he was not properly prepared and has all this lost potential because of the way he was raised.
Billy looks at McMurphy with such high honors because McMurphy was the first real teacher for Billy. Billy had never been taught to stand up for himself and act like a man should. When McMurphy does teach him, Billy looks at McMurphy like he is a savior of some sort. You think I wuh-wuh-wuh-want to stay in here? You think I wouldn't like a con-con-vertible and a guh-guh-girl friend? But did you ever have people l-l-laughing at you? No, because you're so b-big and so tough! Well, I'm not big and tough (195). At the end of the novel when Billy is caught with Candy by Nurse Ratchet, Billy is pleased with himself because he feels like a normal person and he feels like a man. Instantly after Nurse Ratchet mentions how Billys mother is going to react when she hears about this, Billy goes back to acting like a little child. What worries me, Billy she saidI could hear the change in her voiceis how your poor mother is going to take this. She got the response she was after. Billy flinched and put his hand to his cheek like hed been burned with acid (314). Childish and immature, Billy does not know how to handle what his mother will think about the situation so he blames McMurphy for making him do it. Billy is quite similar to Judas, from the bible, because he sells McMurphy out, who is playing the role as Jesus Christ. Feeling horrible about selling out his savior, friend, and teacher, Billy commits suicide. Ashamed and embarrassed by his stutter, Billy decides to cut his throat.
Not having the skills and experiences a person should normally have when growing up is a big reason why Billy was where he was and why he decided to commit suicide. It may not seem like all of them needed to stay on the ward; Billy shows us why he never left the ward. If it was not for Billy being so attached and worried about the way his mother would react after he has sex with Candy, Billy would still be alive. Kesey puts Billy in the novel because Billy represents almost the complete opposite of McMurphy. Billy Bibbit is undervalued in this novel because he is a perfect example of how some patients need the mental institution and are not ready for the real world.
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. New York: Signet, 1962