Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

by

Ben Fountain

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After the show, Bravo huddles backstage, apparently forgotten. Sykes cries as the roadies yell at Bravo to leave. Bravo doesn't leave and instead discusses having seen Beyoncé. Billy tells Dime that he feels sick. Dime insists that everyone's fine, and this is “just another normal day in America,” and Billy replies that he doesn't know what normal is anymore. The roadie foreman snaps at Bravo again to leave but stops when Crack asks where they're supposed to go. Crack insults the foreman, and all of a sudden, a brawl breaks out. Billy tries to keep a roadie from chasing Dime, who attempts to pull Crack off the foreman.
Though the novel doesn't say outright, it implies that Bravo Squad is the only group left alone after the halftime show. Again, this illustrates clearly how inhuman the Bravos are in the eyes of the organizers. In contrast, Destiny's Child was given ample assistance, again illustrating the importance America places on celebrities like Beyoncé over soldiers.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
When Dime gives the word, Bravo stops. They have minimal injuries, though Lodis' lip is split and bloody. Cops lead Bravo away, listen to their story, and then send them across the field to figure out where to go. Billy is thrilled to see a concerned-looking Faison run out to meet them. She's horrified to see that some of the Bravos are hurt and that the Bravos were left unattended after halftime. She shares that the roadies have made trouble before and almost beat up Lyle Lovett a few weeks ago.
Here, the police stand in as a symbol of the American government as a whole: the fact that they can't or won't help Bravo is symbolic of how the government in its entirety does a poor job of helping soldiers. This treatment also calls into question how special the Cowboys' "special guests” really are, as it seems rude at best to not make sure the Bravos are attended to.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
The cheerleaders are incensed on the Bravos' behalf and fetch ice for the injuries. Faison asks Billy about Sykes, who's still crying. Billy explains that he's emotional and misses his wife, and when Faison asks, Billy shares that they're going to be back in Iraq until next October. She remarks on the sacrifices the Bravos make, and Billy studies her face. When Faison asks if  Billy dreads going back, he answers that at least Bravo will be together. Faison talks about the bonding that happens when you face group challenges and then asks Billy if he's seeing anyone. He wonders if he should ask her to marry him.
When Billy lies about why Sykes is crying, glossing over Sykes’ PTSD and the psychological consequences of war. This in turn plays into the Fantasy Industrial Complex that also ignores these consequences. However, perhaps Billy assumes that Faison couldn’t possibly understand the horrors of war and the painful reminders of it that PTSD brings.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
As Billy puts Faison's number in his phone, he explains that Kathryn is his sister. He points out Patty and his mom, who's in his phone as Denise, and explains that Ray doesn't have his own phone. Faison asks if he'll see them before he leaves, and Billy explains that they said goodbye the day before. She insists that she has to go but lingers when she feels how strong Billy's arm is. He promises to meet her where he did before and watches her jog away. Billy calls her phone and waits for it to go to voicemail. He listens to her message and thinks that watching her while listening to her disembodied voice is a strange sensation.
When Billy acts and speaks very stoically about the fact that he doesn't get to see his family again before leaving, he embodies the heroic persona that the government would like him to have. This reminds the reader that Billy is necessarily complicit in this system of dehumanizing soldiers to create heroes; because he is just a soldier, he has little or no power to fight this decision and see his family.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
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