I like posting my assignments when I get an A+. It was funny because I had posted the movie "Ode To Billy Joe" without knowing I had an assigment coming up for my PSY 230 Theories of Personality class to do a character evaluation describing the personality of a character in terms of the five trait clusters. I picked evaluating Billy Joe. This is that assignment.
Billy Joe McAllister, a character in the movie “Ode to Billy Joe” was an innocent and emotionally troubled teenage boy. Understanding the personality of Billy Joe may give insight into why this young man was driven to kill himself by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. One is left with the feeling from the movie that Billy Joe committed suicide because of a one night drunken sexual encounter with another man. Though an easy explanation this does not explain the personality of Billy Joe. There may be others that have had similar experiences but did not have a personality to cause such self destructive behavior. To know the personality of Billy Joe will show how Billy Joe viewed life.
Billy Joe throughout most of the movie had a personality of extraversion. Billy Joe was very talkative and animated. He was enthusiastic in confessing his love for Bobbie Lee. His assertiveness was apparent by his willingness to throw himself into a conversation with the parents of Bobbie Lee to win their approval to date their daughter. Billy Joe could be grandiose and go in many different directions at the same time. He could be boisterous and charming at the same time. Billy Joe was sociable, excited to take Bobbie Lee to the county jamboree, yet by the end of the movie this lead to Billy Joe changing from extraversion to being introverted.
Billy Joe did have a high sex drive. He was not inhibited in sharing this with Bobby Lee. Billy Joe was a good worker, once praised for being a better worker then his fellow employees at the saw mill by his boss. Billy Joe felt good about life. He was confident in his love for Bobby Lee and confident she could be happy loving him.
Billy Joe may have been somewhat conscientious in the ways he planned to win the approval of Bobbie Lee. He also wanted to win the approval of her parents. This was not a strong trait proven by spontaneous behavior. In one instance Billy Joe jumped on the school bus bringing Bobbie Lee home from school just to be near her.
Billy Joe was open to experience. He wanted to experience what life would be like with Bobbie Lee. He was emotional, shared some unusual ideas, and had a curiosity about him and a vivid imagination. Billy Joe could certainly not be accused of being conventional, for this period in time; this particular location in Tippah and Leflore counties in Mississippi. He was imaginative with a colorful vocabulary. This was obvious when waiting on the Tallahatchie Bridge as Bobbie Lee crosses he states, “Hey! I’ve been holding up this here bridge for over an hour so it wouldn’t fall on you,” (IMDb The internet movie database, 1990). Billy Joe had strong beliefs instilled by the society he was growing up in about homosexuality; his openness to experience, may have been the reason for giving into his homosexual tendencies. He does explain to Bobbie Lee he knew what he was doing.
On the night of the county jamboree there was a barn being used for prostitution. Billy Joe went into this barn that night. He did not meet a woman; instead he had a sexual encounter with another man, his boss at the mill. He explains to Bobbie Lee it may not be a onetime experience, it could happen again. Because of his upbringing with strong religious influence he was emotionally crushed.
Billy Joe’s extraverted characteristics turned toward being introverted. He ran away spending a couple of days in the woods to be alone. Billy Joe wanted to be alone to struggle with what he was internally aware of. He became very careful in his words when talking with Bobby Lee. His personality changed to one in a deep depression.
The possibility of the combination of having an extraversion personality, one acting impulsively and a personality that has turned neurotic, feeling blue, easily disturbed with changing moods may explain why Billy Joe committed suicide. Through three quarters of the movie the characteristic trait of Billy Joe was extraversion.
IMDb The internet movie database. (1990). Ode to Billy Joe. Retrieved June 06, 2009, from