Elephant

by

Raymond Carver

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Billy is the narrator’s brother, who is in rough financial shape. At the beginning of the story, he asks the narrator for money because he recently got laid off from his job at a fiberglass insulation plant, his unemployment benefits are running out and he’s selling his belongings to keep the bank from repossessing his house. While he claims that he’ll repay the narrator and that he has plans to get back on his feet financially, those plans never pan out—his situation goes from bad to worse. Billy’s character highlights the difficulty that blue-collar Americans face when trying to recover from financial hardship. Merely getting laid off from his job destroyed his stable middle-class existence, leaving him with no recourse besides asking his brother for money.

Billy Quotes in Elephant

The Elephant quotes below are all either spoken by Billy or refer to Billy. 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:
Dependency Theme Icon
).
Elephant Quotes

He told me he’d hurt his back carrying the TV up and down the street where the pawnshops did business. He went from place to place, he said, trying to get the best offer.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Billy
Page Number: 386
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Elephant LitChart as a printable PDF.
Elephant PDF

Billy Character Timeline in Elephant

The timeline below shows where the character Billy appears in Elephant. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Elephant
Dependency Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility  Theme Icon
When the narrator’s brother, Billy, asks to borrow money, the narrator knows he should say no. But he doesn’t... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Money and Hardship Theme Icon
Last year, Billy got laid off from the plant where he worked, and now he’s spent through his... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
The narrator tells Billy to pay the money back not to him, but to their mother, who is “poor... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Money and Hardship Theme Icon
But in the next three months, Billy only pays her a fraction of the money, so the narrator has to keep sending... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Money and Hardship Theme Icon
Drudgery vs. Escape  Theme Icon
...armchair, too tired to even turn on the TV. He can’t feel too sorry for Billy because he’s got so many issues of his own: in addition to supporting his mother,... (full context)
Drudgery vs. Escape  Theme Icon
...The phone rings, and the narrator begins to sweat when he answers and hears his brother’s voice. They start talking, and the narrator tells his brother about his and his family’s... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
...stares out the window, waiting—he knows what’s about to happen. And then it does: his brother asks him for a thousand dollars. Bill collectors hammer at his door, he says, and... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Money and Hardship Theme Icon
The narrator reminds Billy that he never paid their mother the money that he owes her. Why would he... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
Money and Hardship Theme Icon
The narrator waits the two months to cash his brother’s check. But right before he cashes the check, Billy writes and tells him that his... (full context)
Dependency Theme Icon
The narrator’s path takes him next to the highway. He thinks about his brother and wishes him well. It doesn’t matter if his brother can’t pay the narrator back... (full context)