A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Bill Eggers Character Analysis

The oldest of the Eggers children. When Eggers’s mother is in the process of dying, Bill is already twenty-four and working in Washington, D.C. for the Heritage Foundation—Eggers, who has only a vague idea of what his brother does, describes Bill’s job as having “something to do with eastern European economics, privatization, conversion.” When Eggers, Beth, and Toph move to Northern California, Bill relocates to Los Angeles, where he works for another conservative think-tank. For the most part, Bill isn’t present very much, but he is a supportive older brother to all three of his siblings.

Bill Eggers Quotes in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

The A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius quotes below are all either spoken by Bill Eggers or refer to Bill Eggers. 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:
Self-Consciousness and Meta-Narration Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius published in 2001.
Chapter 4 Quotes

You know, to be honest, though, what I see is less a problem with form, all that garbage, and more a problem of conscience. You’re completely paralyzed with guilt about relating all this in the first place, especially the stuff earlier on. You feel somehow obligated to do it, but you also know that Mom and Dad would hate it, would crucify you […]. But then again, I should say, and Bill and Beth would say—well, probably not Bill, but definitely Beth—that your guilt, and their disapproval, is a very middlebrow, middle-class, midwestern sort of disapproval. It’s superstition as much as anything—like the primitives who fear the camera will take their soul. You struggle with a guilt both Catholic and unique to the home in which you were raised. Everything there was a secret—for instance, your father being in AA was not to be spoken of, ever, while he was in and after he stopped attending. You never told even your closest friends about anything that happened inside that house. And now you alternately rebel against and embrace that kind of suppression.

Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bill Eggers Character Timeline in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

The timeline below shows where the character Bill Eggers appears in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
Eggers is home from college for winter break. His older brother, Bill, has just returned to D.C., where he works for something Eggers says has to do... (full context)
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
...he and Beth will have to call people before she does. They’ll have to call Bill and their mother’s former volleyball teammates and her coworkers. How, he wonders, will they have... (full context)
Self-Consciousness and Meta-Narration Theme Icon
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...the minister, who hadn’t known his father because his father was a staunch atheist. Then Bill gave a eulogy, and though he was good in front of crowds, he was perhaps... (full context)
Chapter 6
Self-Consciousness and Meta-Narration Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Guilt and Poetic License Theme Icon
...to hit them rather hard, often smacking them over the head. At some point, though, Bill started laughing when she did this, ducking away and turning it into a joke. The... (full context)
Chapter 10
Self-Consciousness and Meta-Narration Theme Icon
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
...(Beth walked down the aisle to a KISS song). With Toph staying in LA with Bill, Eggers will remain in Illinois for a few extra days to excavate his past. He... (full context)
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
Guilt and Poetic License Theme Icon
...stupid ashes?” she adds. Eggers can’t believe she would do this without consulting him or Bill, and this makes Beth so angry that she hangs up. “This is just too—I had... (full context)
Coming of Age, Parenthood, and Responsibility Theme Icon
Death, Humor, and the Worst-Case Scenario Theme Icon
Guilt and Poetic License Theme Icon
...ocean, thinking that maybe he should travel to Cape Cod, though this would require asking Bill to keep Toph longer, and then he’d have to tell the family what he’s doing. (full context)