Going After Cacciato

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An American soldier in the Vietnam War, whose foot is blown off by a land mine, and later dies of a heart attack brought on by his own fear. Although Billy Boy Watkins has a very small role in the book, his death is a milestone event for the other soldiers, especially Paul Berlin, in part because it proves that a soldier’s greatest enemy is his own fear.
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Billy Boy Watkins Character Timeline in Going After Cacciato

The timeline below shows where the character Billy Boy Watkins appears in Going After Cacciato. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
The chapter begins, “it was a bad time.” A man named Billy Boy Watkins has died of fright in the middle of a battle, as have several others:... (full context)
Chapter 22
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
...others not to burn down a village. He was also the soldier who wrote to Billy Boy ’s parents after Billy Boy’s death of “fright.” (full context)
Chapter 29
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
...with Sarkin. Berlin overhears Doc telling Captain Rhallon “the ultimate war story”—the story of how Billy Boy Watkins died. Berlin feels sick, and tunes out Doc’s words. Sarkin points out the obvious... (full context)
Chapter 31
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin thinks about the death of Billy Boy Watkins, which has happened only a few days ago. Doc Peret—who isn’t Berlin’s friend yet—confirms... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Paul Berlin tries to concentrate on forgetting the details of Billy Boy ’s death, but the harder he tries, the more difficult it becomes. He tells himself... (full context)
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin continues laughing, and as he laughs, he remembers the day that Billy Boy died. The men were sitting around, drinking soda and fooling around with their guns, shooting... (full context)
Obligation vs. Escape Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
Berlin continues to remember Billy Boy ’s death. After losing his foot, Billy Boy felt a sudden rush of pain. Billy... (full context)
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
As the incident of Billy Boy ’s death ends, the soldiers resume their business. Eddie sings humorous songs about Billy Boy,... (full context)
Chapter 32
Fantasy, Magical Realism, and Storytelling Theme Icon
Vietnam and the Chaos of War Theme Icon
Discontinuity and Trauma Theme Icon
Survival and Self-Preservation Theme Icon
It is 4:30 AM. Berlin sits, keeping watch and thinking about Billy Boy . He decides that there’s nothing especially interesting or important about the fact that Billy... (full context)