The Chosen

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The blonde, angelic and blind boy in the bed next to Reuven’s in the hospital. Billy is eternally hopeful and sweet and talks about how he is going to receive a new surgery to regain his sight. He became blind when in a car accident that also killed his mother. After Reuven leaves the hospital he finds out that Billy’s operation was unsuccessful.

Billy Merrit Quotes in The Chosen

The The Chosen quotes below are all either spoken by Billy Merrit or refer to Billy Merrit. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Fawcett edition of The Chosen published in 1987.
Chapter 11 Quotes

It was as senseless, as – I held my breath, feeling myself shiver with fear – as Billy’s blindness was senseless. That was it. It was as senseless, as empty of meaning, as Billy’s blindness. I lay there and thought of Roosevelt being dead and Billy being blind, and finally I turned over and lay with my face on the pillow and felt myself crying. I cried a long time.

Related Characters: Reuven Malter (speaker), Billy Merrit
Related Symbols: Eyes and Blindness
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

In one of the low points of the book, Reuven receives word of Frank Delano Roosevelt's death, the horrors of the Holocaust, and his friend Billy's failed medical operation, all within a few days of each other. Reuven is overcome by the senseless tragedy of the world: there's so much pain and suffering around him.

Reuven's behavior in this scene indicates how compassionate he's become: he's genuinely moved by the pain of other people. At the same time, the scene represents a challenge to Reuven's faith in God--like so many religious people in the 40s and 50s, he questions how a just God could possibly allow so much tragedy to occur.

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Billy Merrit Character Timeline in The Chosen

The timeline below shows where the character Billy Merrit appears in The Chosen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Fathers, Sons, and Rebellion Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...Tony and introduces himself as Robert (instead of Reuven). Reuven also describes his appearance to Billy, who tells Reuven that he will be having a new operation to hopefully restore his... (full context)
Chapter 3
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Billy’s father, Roger Merrit, comes to visit and asks Reuven to come visit them after Billy’s... (full context)
Chapter 4
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
...tells Reuven to go back to bed. In the morning the curtain is still drawn. Billy and Reuven are nervous about Mr. Savo, and Reuven takes out his tefillin and prays... (full context)
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...and it becomes clear that his recent injury arose from throwing the ball to Mickey. Billy has left for his operation and Reuven spends the morning praying for him. (full context)
Chapter 7
Judaism and Tradition Theme Icon
World War II and War Theme Icon
...with yeshiva teachers like Mr. Malter. During the blessing Reuven thinks about Mr. Savo and Billy and whether he would be able to say a blessing if he had been blinded.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Choosing and Being Chosen Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Reuven calls Mr. Merrit, Billy’s father, to see how the operation went. Mr. Merrit tells Reuven that it was not... (full context)
Chapter 11
World War II and War Theme Icon
...FDR did during the Depression. Reuven feels like this is a senseless tragedy akin to Billy’s blindness. (full context)