Study Guide

Big Sur Chapter 26

By Jack Kerouac

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Chapter 26

  • Jack knows that the real plan for the evening is to go see Billie, Cody's mistress, in the city. When they get to the apartment, Jack finds that it's "a well arranged pad with goldfish bowl, books, strange doodads, neat kitchen, the whole clean as a pin."
  • Billie is a blonde who looks exactly like the female version of Jack's male friend Julien.
  • Cody is a bit nervous because he can tell that Jack and Billie "go for each other like two tons of bricks right there" in front of him. Cody announces he's going back to Los Gatos, and Jack has the feeling he'll stay right here with Billie for years.
  • Jack takes a moment to feel sorry for his friend.
  • Subconsciously Cody wants this to happen – for Jack and his mistress to go for each other – but he won't admit it and he'll get all upset and call Jack a "bastard" for stealing his woman.
  • Jack maintains that "there's nothing evil, man-against-man or sinister about any of it, it's just a strange innocence, a spontaneous burst of love in fact and Cody understands that bettern anybody else." So Cody leaves them alone.
  • Jack quickly appropriates the chair next to the goldfish bowl as his for the duration of the week, and there he sits drinking port. Billie's son, Elliot, sleeps in the back room.
  • Right away Billie busts out a collection of letters she's received from Cody and wants to talk all about him, but Jack just can't get over the fact that she looks so much like his friend Julien.
  • They have sex – and Jack agrees with Cody's earlier claim that she's phenomenal in bed – and then Billie packs Jack off to bed.
  • From their conversation Jack decides that most of the things she says are inane, but that she has "the most musical beautiful and sad voice" he's ever heard. Still, "she does say something interesting once in a while."
  • Billie thinks people are either closed or open channels, and in her mind Cody is "a big open channel pouring out all his holy gysm on Heaven." Jack looks at the letters Cody wrote to her and sees that they're all about their souls colliding. Jack is mostly bored.
  • Still, he can't get over her voice – it's almost too much to bear sometimes, he writes. He just "sit[s] and marvel[s] and stare[s] at her mouth and wonder[s] where all the beauty is coming from and why."
  • He imagines going to Mexico with her and getting married, and having "a great big four way marriage with Cody and Evelyn."
  • But he knows that Billie is an enemy of Evelyn's, because she's not satisfied with being Cody's lover. Billie wants to take him away from Evelyn completely.
  • Jack thinks there's not too much difference between the two women except Billie bores him and Evelyn is fascinating; "Evelyn is still the champ," he decides.
  • For the time being he'll just take joy in his new love affair, take refuge in the hope it provides and escape the horror of that deep breath he took on the beach of Big Sur.
  • He tries to describe the feeling, but he knows that no one can ever really write how love makes one feel. One has a 50% approximation of love, at best.
  • In the middle of the night, after they've made love, Billie brings out her four-year-old son, Elliot, to introduce him to Jack.
  • Jack decides that Elliot is "one of the weirdest persons" he's ever met. He wants to always stay by his mother's side and he asks her questions constantly like "Why does the sun shine yesterday?"
  • Billie showers the boy with her attention, and Jack realizes that in his "dirt old soul" he's already jealous of Elliot.

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