August: Osage County

by

Tracy Letts

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Bill Fordham Character Analysis

Barbara’s husband. A university professor currently embroiled in an affair with a younger student, Bill is intellectual and aloof. He loves Barbara but finds her difficult, and for this reason has chosen to distance himself from her by exploring a trial separation. Bill is clearly overwhelmed by Barbara’s toxic and overbearing family, but often uses his bewilderment as an excuse for his lack of emotional support for both Barbara and their daughter Jean.

Bill Fordham Quotes in August: Osage County

The August: Osage County quotes below are all either spoken by Bill Fordham or refer to Bill Fordham. 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:
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of August: Osage County published in 2008.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

BARBARA: Goddamn, it’s hot.

BILL: Wimp.

BARBARA: I know it. Colorado spoiled me.

BILL: That’s one of the reasons we got out of here.

BARARA: No, it’s not.

BILL: You suppose your mom’s turned on the air conditioner?

BARBARA: Are you kidding? Remember the parakeets?

BILL: The parakeets.

BARBARA: I didn’t tell you about the parakeets? She got a parakeet, for some insane reason, and the little fucker croaked after about two days. So she went to the pet store and raised hell and they gave her another parakeet. That one died after just one day. So she went back and they gave her a third parakeet and that one died, too. So the chick from the per store came out here to see just what in hell this serial parakeet killer was doing to bump off these birds.

BILL: And?

BARBARA: The heat. It was too hot. They were dying from the heat.

Related Characters: Barbara Fordham (speaker), Bill Fordham (speaker), Violet Weston
Related Symbols: Heat
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

VIOLET: [Beverly] just told me he’s disappointed in you because you settled.

BARBARA: Is that supposed to be a comment on Bill? Daddy never said anything like that to you—

VIOLET: Your father thought you had talent, as a writer.

BARBARA: If he thought that, and I doubt he did, he was wrong. Anyway, what difference does it make? It’s my life. I can do what I want. So he was disappointed in me because I settled for a beautiful family and a teaching career, is that what you’re saying? What a load of absolute horseshit.

Related Characters: Violet Weston (speaker), Barbara Fordham (speaker), Beverly Weston, Bill Fordham
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

BILL: Barbara, please, we have enough on our hands with your parents right now. Let’s not revisit all this.

BARBARA: Revisit, when did we visit this to begin with? You pulled the rug out from under me. I still don’t know what happened. Do I bore you, intimidate you, disgust you? Is this just about the pleasures of young flesh, teenage pussy? I really need to know.

BILL: You need to know now? You want to have this discussion with Beverly missing, and your mother crazy as a loon, and our daughter twenty feet away? Do you really want to do this now? […] This discussion deserves our care. And patience. We’ll both be in a better frame of mind to talk about this once your father’s come home.

BARBARA: My father’s dead, Bill.

Related Characters: Barbara Fordham (speaker), Bill Fordham (speaker), Beverly Weston, Jean Fordham
Page Number: 39-40
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

BARBARA: You might have told us [about the cancer].

IVY: You weren’t going to tell us about you and Bill.

BARBARA: That’s different.

IVY: Why? Because it’s you, and not me?

BARBARA: No, because divorce is an embarrassing public admission of defeat. Cancer’s fucking cancer, you can’t help that. We’re your sisters. We might have given you some comfort.

IVY: I just don’t feel that connection very keenly.

KAREN: I feel very connected, to both of you.

IVY: (Amused) We never see you, you’re never around, you haven’t been around for—

KAREN: But I still feel that connection!

IVY: You think if you tether yourself to this place in mind only, you don’t need to actually appear.

KAREN: You know me that well.

IVY: No, and that’s my point. I can’t perpetuate these myths of family or sisterhood anymore. We’re all just people, some of us accidentally connected by genetics, a random selection of cells. Nothing more.

Related Characters: Barbara Fordham (speaker), Ivy Weston (speaker), Karen Weston (speaker), Bill Fordham
Page Number: 76-77
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire August: Osage County LitChart as a printable PDF.
August: Osage County PDF

Bill Fordham Character Timeline in August: Osage County

The timeline below shows where the character Bill Fordham appears in August: Osage County. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Parents, Children, and Inheritance Theme Icon
Addiction Theme Icon
Violence, Abuse, and Power Theme Icon
Familial Responsibility and Entrapment Theme Icon
...and Ivy’s sister—yet. Ivy says she did, and tells Violet that Barb and her husband Bill are on their way from Boulder, Colorado. Violet asks Ivy to provide her with more... (full context)
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Barbara and Bill arrive on the porch, carrying suitcases. Their daughter Jean is by the car, smoking, and... (full context)
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Barbara cannot believe she is home on the Plains once again—a place she and Bill see as empty and “creepy.” As they joke about the “spiritual affliction” of the place,... (full context)
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Mattie Fae greets Bill, Barbara, and Jean enthusiastically. Mattie Fae remarks on how big Jean has gotten, and comments... (full context)
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Violet pulls Barbara and Bill into the living room, and asks them to help her with paperwork which, it’s implied,... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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Barbara, Bill, and Violet sit in the dining room drinking coffee and eating pie. Violet is filling... (full context)
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Bill asks if there was any trigger or catalyst for Beverly’s departure, but Violet says that... (full context)
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...Barbara that she was always Beverly’s favorite child. Barbara defends her decision to leave—she and Bill got offered jobs in academia at a university in Colorado making twice what they would’ve... (full context)
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...smoking pot, but her mother does. She also reveals to Johnna that her parents are separated—Bill has been having an affair with a student. (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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Barbara pulls down a hide-a-bed in the living room and begins setting up her and Bill’s “room.” Bill comes in from the study, carrying a thin book—a hardback edition of Beverly’s... (full context)
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Bill comments that Violet has “a way of putting [Barbara] in attack mode.” Barbara insists that... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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...downstairs, and gently wakes Barbara. She tells Barbara that the sheriff is at the house. Bill and Barbara scramble out of bed, and Barbara goes upstairs with Johnna to wake Violet.... (full context)
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Bill lets the sheriff in, and Barbara and Johnna return downstairs. As the sheriff steps into... (full context)
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...with him and identify the body. Barbara says she doesn’t think she can do it. Bill offers to go, but Gilbeau insists it needs to be a blood relative. Barbara stoically... (full context)
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Bill asks Gilbeau what he thinks happened—whether Beverly’s death was an accident or a suicide. Gilbeau... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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In the kitchen, Bill, Jean, and Karen’s boyfriend Steve are returning from a grocery run. Jean runs into the... (full context)
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Barbara and Bill are in the dining room, arguing. Barbara accuses Bill of being an absent parent to... (full context)
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Bill comes back in from the porch and goes to get Jean from the living room.... (full context)
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...all else. Steve attempts to tell Violet that he thought the poems of Beverly’s which Bill read at the funeral were beautiful, but Violet is confused as to who, exactly, Steve... (full context)
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After an awkward silence, Violet asks Bill if he has found any “hidden treasure” in Beverly’s office. Bill reveals that he found... (full context)
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Little Charles attempts to ask Bill about the poems he found, but Violet interrupts and asks Bill where he’s living, and... (full context)
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...sobbing Violet. She announces that she is starting a pill raid and instructs Ivy and Bill to go upstairs and start going through “everything” Violet owns. She orders Karen to call... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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...of whiskey. Charlie, Mattie Fae, Jean, and Steve play cards in the dining room while Bill sorts through paperwork on the porch. Violet is upstairs, looking out the window, her hair... (full context)
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...she’s sorry to hear about her marital strife—she asks Barbara if she thinks she and Bill will get back together. Barbara admits she doesn’t know. Karen admires their own parents for... (full context)
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...her or Karen—Ivy points out that Barbara hadn’t told either of them about her and Bill. Barbara insists the two things are different—divorce is an “embarrassing public admission of defeat” while... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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...and both wearing pajamas. Karen is asleep in the living room on the hide-a-bed, and Bill is asleep on an air mattress in the study. Steve shushes Jean, whispering that she... (full context)
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...Karen that Steve was messing with Jean. Karen, though, is only concerned with Steve’s well-being. Bill and Barbara come in and ask what’s going on—Johnna tells them too, that she “tuned... (full context)
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Barbara lunges for Steve, trying to attack him and threatening to murder him. Bill tells Karen to get Steve out of the house. Steve insists he didn’t do anything,... (full context)
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In the dining room, Barbara, Bill, Jean, and Johnna reckon with what has just happened. Barbara and Bill tell Jean to... (full context)
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Barbara is alone for just a moment before Bill enters the room. He announces that he is heading back to Boulder and taking Jean... (full context)
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Barbara tells Bill that she knows he’s never coming back to her. He tells her to never say... (full context)