Billy Nolan is a resentful, vindictive and abusive teenager who supplies Chris Hargensen with Pig blood for a prank that occurs within Stephen King's story Carrie. In it, King writes several passages relating to Billy's possessions, actions and circumstances. Below are some of these passages (in chronological order).

From Part 1. A description of Billy's car:

61 Biscayne, which was fender-dented, rusted out, jacked in the back, and equipped with dual glasspack mufflers. One headlight was out; the other flickered in the midnight dark when the car struck a particularly rough bump.

From Part 2. A description of Billy's Car, recklessness and broken home

Billy's car was old, dark, somehow sinister, the windshield was milky around the edges, as if a cataract was beginning to form. The seats were loose and unanchored. […] And of course he drove fast. / On the third ride home one of the bald front tyres blew at sixty miles an hour, the car went into a screaming slide

He came from what the social workers called a broken home; his father had taken off after the failure of a badly managed gas-station venture when Billy was twelve, and his mother had four boyfriends at last count. […] But the car: the car fed him power and glory from its own mystic lines of force. It made him someone to be reckoned with, someone with mana. It was not by accident that he had done most of his balling in the back seat. The car was his slave and his god. It gave, and it could take away. Billy had used it to take away many times.

Also from Part 2. A description of spotted surfaces and Billy's comb:

began to comb his hair, bending down to see his reflection in the spotted, ancient mirror. […] The loops and swirls were almost right. They glistened in the light of the dun, flyspecked globe like eddies on deep water. His face was calm, reposeful. The comb he used was a battered old Ace, clotted with grease. His father had given it to him on his eleventh birthday, and not one tooth was broken in it. Not one

My questions are:

  1. What is the symbolism invoked by the physical condition of Billy's car and how does it relate to Billy's mentality?

  2. What is the significance of several surfaces (Front-Car Window, and Mirrors) being described as "milky" or "spotted"? How does this relate to Billy?

  3. Does King attempt to relate Billy's obsession with mana, "a cultivation or possession of energy and power" (as per wikipedia) with paternal (and possibley maternal) negligence that he had previously experienced?

  4. What is the significance of the comb retaining all of its teeth, despite becoming battered over the years?

My own interpretations of these questions are:

  1. The car is a representation of Billy's psyche: The dilapidated exterior, "fender-dented [...] jacked in the back" et cetera and unstable interior, "the seats were loose and unanchored" represent Billy's unstable/chaotic personality, which he is able to hide by maintaining a composed air, upheld by his calm face and sleeked hair. This chaotic, and possibly self-destructive feature is also demonstrated by his fast and reckless driving "bald front tyres blew at sixty miles an hour".

  2. I hazard a guess that the obscured car window and mirrors indicate Billy's own decreasing perception of reality, but don't really see any other supporting evidence of this interpretation within the text.

  3. Billy, due to his experience in a "broken home", may have gained a sense of resentment or bitterness against the world for his poor circumstances in life. Billy describes the car as able to give and "take away", thus he may act on his vindictive feelings to commit immoral actions.

  4. I don't know.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.