Billy Deel: Boy Bullies Jeannette in The Glass Castle

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Who is Billy Deel in The Glass Castle? What is Billy Deel’s role in the book, and how does he affect Jeannette Walls?

Billy Deel in The Glass Castle was a neighbor of Jeannette Walls and her family. Billy was older than Jeannette and sexually harassed and assaulted her during her childhood.

Read more about what happened with Billy Deel in The Glass Castle and how Jeannette’s siblings tried to protect her.

Unwanted Attention from Billy Deel

When Jeannette was eight years old, a boy named Billy Deel moved to town with his father. He was three years older and one side of his head was dented in. Billy had a reputation as a delinquent, and neighbors started accusing him of torturing and killing their pets. Jeannette thought the worst thing about Billy was the way he looked at her. In The Glass Castle, Billy Deel made Jeannette nervous.

In The Glass Castle, Billy Deel told the other kids that Jeannette was his girlfriend. Although she denied it and didn’t like Billy, she couldn’t help but enjoy the attention a little. Jeannette told Billy she would be his friend but not his girlfriend. Billy said if she became his girlfriend, he would protect her and buy her gifts. He said if she wouldn’t, she’d regret it. Jeannette wasn’t afraid of Billy. She said they could be friends or nothing. 

A week later, Billy gave Jeannette a turquoise and silver ring that belonged to his mother. She didn’t want to take the ring and give Billy the wrong impression, but she hadn’t received a present for a long time, certainly never jewelry. She decided to keep it but not wear it. 

A few weeks later, Jeannette was playing hide and seek with some kids from the Track. She hid in an old secluded tool shed she thought no one would find. But Billy found her and climbed in to hide even though he hadn’t been part of the game. 

The shed was small, barely big enough for one person, and Jeannette told him to find another spot. They were sitting so close their legs touched and his breath warmed her face. For the first time, Jeannette was scared. 

In this scene in The Glass Castle, Billy Deel started talking about the Green Lantern. He told her what happened inside and that sometimes the men stabbed the women if they struggled. He pressed his mouth against hers and kissed her hard. Jeannette struggled, but that only made him push harder. 

Billy made fast work of unbuttoning his pants. He started to tug on Jeannette’s shorts. She wanted to knee him, like her father had showed her, but he was between her legs. Instead, she bit his ear with all her might. Billy screamed and punched her in the face. The other kids heard the scream and ran to the shed. When they opened the door, Jeannette crawled out with her pants down and blood spurting from her nose. 

The day after the shed, Jeannette marched over to Billy’s house and tossed the ring at him. She said they weren’t friends anymore. As she started to walk away, Billy shouted that he’d raped her. Jeannette didn’t know what the word meant, so she said it was no big deal. But when she got home, she looked it up in the dictionary. She still wasn’t clear what “rape” meant, but this time she didn’t ask her dad to explain. She had a feeling that would lead to trouble. 

Rex and Rose Mary were out at the bar the next night. The kids were playing cards at home when they heard Billy shouting at Jeannette from outside. Lori went to tell Billy to get lost, but she came back a second later. Billy had a gun. 

Billy broke out the first-floor window and pointed the gun at them. Brian could tell it was only a BB gun, but it didn’t matter. At that range, even BBs could do damage. Billy opened fire, and the kids flipped over the spool table as a barricade. 

Lori ran upstairs and grabbed Rex’s loaded handgun. She pointed it at Billy and pulled the trigger. Silence followed. They ran outside, but Billy had ducked before the shot. He jumped up and ran to the train tracks, stopping every few feet to unload another round of BBs in their direction. 

Jeannette grabbed the gun and shot it. The bullet landed in the dirt by Billy’s feet, and he sprinted away. Jeannette and her siblings laughed, but it soon faded. Jeannette was shaking.

Billy Deel: Boy Bullies Jeannette in The Glass Castle

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Jeannette Walls's "The Glass Castle" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Glass Castle summary:

  • The author's unbelievable childhood as her absent parents went on alcoholic binges
  • How Jeannette and her siblings escaped their parents to strike out on their own
  • The complicated relationship Jeannette had with her parents before they died

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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