Study Guide

Bill Denbrough in It

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Bill Denbrough

Sad, Stuttering Big Bro

The first thing that differentiates Billy boy from the rest of the town kids—and even from the Losers—is the fact that he's directly affected by It. After all, It chomped off the arm of his baby bro George, killing him and sending the Denbrough parents into a serious depression and grief spiral.

The second thing that differentiates Bill is the fact that he has a stutter. And, this being the not-super-PC 1950s, everyone decides to call him "Stuttering Bill."

These two aspects of Bill's life join together to create a meek, mild-mannered kid. He yearns for renewed affection from his grief-dazed parents, who can't rouse themselves enough to even talk with him. Because of this, Bill's only outlet is riding his bike—nicknamed Silver—at top speeds through the town.

Silver flew and Stuttering Bill Denbrough flew with him; their gantry-like shadow fled behind them. They raced down Up-Mile Hill together; the playing cards roared. Bill’s feet found the pedals again and he began to pump, wanting to go even faster, wanting to reach some hypothetical speed— not of sound but of memory—and crash through the pain barrier. (5.5.12)

But it soon turns out that he has another outlet: the affection and camaraderie of the Losers, who band together until the leadership of Big Bill.

But before we get to Bill's mad leadership skillz (and mad various other skillz) let's check out his phobias.

The Bleeding Picture

The main characters in It are, in large part, characterized by their phobias. In fact, if any one thing defines them, it's the way that It manifests to them; how It reflects their personal anxieties and fears.

When It makes a house call to Bill, he shows up in the guise of Bill's baby bro. Nostalgic and grieving, Bill looks through a photo album of George's, stopping to look at his class photo. Then something a little spooky happens:

George’s eyes rolled in the picture. They turned up to meet Bill’s own. George’s artificial say cheese smile turned into a horrid leer. His right eye drooped closed in a wink: See you soon, Bill. In my closet. Maybe tonight.

Bill threw the book across the room. He clapped his hands over his mouth. (5.8.56)

It is no dummy. It shows up as an animated version of George because that is what Bill fears the most at that very moment. He wants his brother back, of course, but he's also racked with misplaced guilt over his brother's death and is scared that his brother, if he were to come back, would blame him for his untimely death. The wink that It-George gives Bill, along with the threat of "See you soon" suggests to Bill that his brother died furious, and that a dead George would want to punish him, perhaps with death.

Ultimately, with the help of the Losers, Bill lets go of this paralyzing guilt and realizes that he had no control over his brother's murder.

Big Bill

Bill is perhaps the main character in It: a sensitive, wounded boy who overcomes sorrow to be a leader. He's strong, he's kind, he's tender…he's a little boring.

We're just calling it the way we see it. In our book, Bill is too good. He's wise and thoughtful and smart and cute and the one girl (and later woman) in the novel is madly in love with him. He's an attentive, talented lover. He's a highly talented writer of horror novels, whose staggering commercial success belies an innate talent for storytelling. He's unpretentious, taking a stand against pretentious writers of intellectual trash to prove that horror novels are just as worthwhile and artistically challenging as experimental poetry.

(Um, Stephen King? Is that…you?)

Even as a kid, Bill is the one who makes it all happen. He leads the charge against It, and his bravery makes it all possible. So...way to go, Bill. We're happy you get a happily-ever-after with your movie star wife.

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