Billy Bathgate Essay, Research Paper
Billy Bathgate, is a book of a young boy s transition into manhood. It is an amazingly well-written book that intrigued me the entire way through. It starts out in Billy s hometown, the Bronx of New York in the twenties; a time of social unrest and prohibition.
The apartment building Billy lives in is not the epitome of cleanliness. The streets are littered with papers and loud noises of the trains that go by every hour. Rundown little bungalows and an occasional three-story fake brick building separate the boatyards and factories in Billy s neighborhood. Across the street from Billy s apartement building is an orphanage which he visits often because of a girl, Rebecca who he screws two times for a dollar.
His mother works at a laundromat, washing clothes for a company and has been driven insane by the poverty she lives in. She doesn t really take care of Billy and in essence he learns how to survive in the Bronx with the street smarts he has taught himself. He knows that he has something special; a desire to work and be prosperous that many of the other younger boys do not. He acts older than his age and maybe that is why he catches the eye of Dutch who also lived in the neighborhood and is now rich.
Dutch is the leader of a mob that has one of their main warehouses located in the Bronx. All the boy s here wish they could become like Dutch; as someone that rose from this dirty place and made a place in the world for themselves. One day, Billy was juggling on the train tracks when he hears someone yell, Hey, boy! He is motioned to come over to Dutch who hands him ten dollars and compliments him on his juggling. This is where the fire in Billy is sparked and he becomes determined to join Dutch s gang. After following and watching around the neighborhood, Billy finds out about another warehouse on Park Avenue and brings a brown paper bag, so he will be allowed to get in. Instead of money in his bag, like all the other callboys, Billy has cupcakes. He is discovered when instead of money, cupcakes come pouring out. Then Dutch suddenly comes in picks up a cupcake and comments on how these are his favorite. Billy, now off the hook for the moment, looks around and recognizes, Mr. Berman; the mastermind behind all of Dutch s money making schemes. Mr. Berman also is intrigued with the courage that Billy has and addresses him. He sends Billy off on his first errand to get coffee.
As time goes on, Billy becomes more involved with the gang. Bo Weinberg, a member of the gang has been found out to be selling information to others outside the gang. Dutch was furious and they picked Bo and his girlfriend up on the street. They drove to the docks and get on a boat, Dutch planning out his evil deed, which Billy has no idea of. He watches them tie up Bo and cast his legs in a bucket full of concrete. Then they push him off into the ocean. On the way back in the car, Dutch asks Billy to watch Bo s girlfriend, Miss Drew pack her things in her hotel room. Billy is excited with the prospect, yet is afraid that if anything goes wrong, that he too will be meeting Bo again.
Dutch, is in a lot of trouble with the law for tax evasion and so he decides that he wants to go to the country and be seen by the court up there. The whole gang travels up there, Billy with the excitement of adventure and responsibility in his head for he is assigned to watch over Miss Drew. Billy is in awe of the flourishings of the hotel, a room to himself and a sink and basin in the room as well. Miss Drew and Billy passed the days getting to know each other and Billy found out how to treat a lady like how she should be treated.
Weeks passed by and finally Dutch s trial comes up and he is found not guilty. The boys and Dutch drive out to a place twelve miles out of the way of Ontagada. This will be their new hideout while the Feds try and set Dutch up for another trial by gaining more evidence that he is guilty. In the end, Dutch figures to get rid of Miss Drew that he will have to have her assassinated. Billy, though with a kind heart, sends her husband to come and get her making it impossible to kill her without a big ordeal.
The boys meet up at a restaurant, that is a normal hangout for them. They are celebrating Dutch s trial, except Mr. Berman who thinks that there is something up the D.A. s sleeve. Suddenly they hear a noise and the rival gang comes and kills everyone, except for Billy who escapes through a bathroom window. A couple of weeks later, a baby is delivered to Billy and he knows that it is his and Miss Drew s. He wants to be a good father and get a job so he can support his mother and son. He goes on to say that Dutch changed his life and that he would probably be sitting on a street corner going nowhere if it wasn t for Dutch. He has great dreams for the future and has learned numerous life lessons that have made him a different person, than the little boy who juggled on the train tracks.
Mr. Berman, is a genius who has a talent with numbers. He teaches Billy how to manage money and not to always be so sure of himself. In a way, Mr. Berman was a mentor to Billy, teaching him the important basics in life. He made sure that Billy needed to understand not to ask so many questions because it would get him into trouble. In essence, Mr. Berman taught Billy the things he didn t know because he had never had a father or male figure in his life before. Berman takes into account the evil in the world and how you can t always outsmart it. Dutch thinks that once the trial is over that he is off scotch-free. Berman on the other hand knows something is going on, that Dutch was too lucky to get off without even a fine. He always keeps one eye over his shoulder, but the rest of the gang doesn t and that is what leads them to their demise in the end.
Billy, is a boy with a strong character and self-confidence. He dreams of being in Dutch s gang and because he is such a determined boy his dream comes true. Unlike any of the other boy s that live in the Bronx, Billy has something special; a determination that what he wants will happen. From when he joins the gang as a young man, until the end when he is delivered a son, Billy has gone through some very important stages in changing from a young boy to a man. He has learned responsibility, common sense and numbers from Berman, and how to love a woman and treat her right from Miss Drew. In the beginning, Billy thought that women were only good for one thing. He never knew that he could have such strong feelings and close attachment to them; to risk his job for Miss Drew s safety shows how unselfish he was. When Mr. Berman gave him his first paycheck, Billy went home and took his mother shopping and sneaks some money into her purse. He felt that he was indebted to her for the house he had been given and the mom who cared about him so much at one time. Bill, was definitely the most real and caring person in the whole book. He changed everyone that he met in a little way, was it inside or out. He knew who he was, while most of the rest were confused with who they were.
Dutch, was a man of self-confidence and ignorance. He didn t like to listen to anyone else or be addressed like he was one of the lowly gain positions. Even when Berman or Irving were giving him good advice, Dutch told them to shut up or they would be dead. He was an ignorant man and I m sure that he could have avoided his fate if he had listened to someone else other than himself. He like to be in control and treat his woman like play objects. He could have really cared less about what Miss Drew was doing while she was with Billy as long as she came back to him at night. He didn t like to be told what to do and that is probably why he was the leader instead of Mr. Berman, who had a lot more of the qualifications to be one.
Miss Drew was a sweet and confused girl, not knowing where she was going in life. She ran around with mobsters, while at home she had a husband sitting reading the newspaper, knowing full well what was going on. From the drift I got he was gay, but why wouldn t he still care about her to not let her get into the all the trouble she was playing with? She liked to flirt with danger and didn t really know how to be treated by someone that had true feelings for her. She felt uncomfortable when she was with Billy for the way he treated her like he was princess and didn t raise his voice at her. They both learned a lot from each other that made them different people. Billy made her think of what she had been missing if she would get into a relationship with someone that cared for her as a person and not an object. Maybe in the end she realized how special she was and decided not to be pushed around like she had been before.
This book taught many good lessons about the way life is and how to make the best of it. Just because Billy was a poor, Bronx kid didn t mean that he couldn t have big dreams like any other kid. He was determined not to let his position in life stand in the way of his dream. And in the end, he had accomplished what he had wanted and learned many things that would help him farther down on the road. He learned how to love, trust and take care of others. After, the killings of his gang are over, him and his mom move to a nice apartment overlooking Claremont Park. Not only does Billy escape the poverty was trapped in, but the dreary atmosphere in which he lived in. This book shows that if you really believe in your dreams they will come true.
I liked this book a tremendous amount, even though it wouldn t be a book that I would have looked at or picked up at the bookstore. I m glad that I read something I don t usually read and enjoyed it so much. It makes me want to go and find other books about the mob in the twenties era. I also liked the book because it wasn t the usual traditional book that you have to read for school. In the future, I would like to read more alternative books. It is sad thinking of all the wonderful books I have read that in my opinion were more well written than many of the classics I have read in other English classes. I would recommend this book to any one, especially boy s, since it is based on a young boy s life. Billy Bathgate, wasn t the usual predictable book, one where you can tell where the story is going in the first couple chapters. I have opened up a new gate for a really accomplished author.