Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

by

Ben Fountain

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Josh runs towards Bravo, apologizing profusely. He explains that someone was supposed to bring them to a pre-arranged meeting point. Josh is shocked when Crack mentions the fight, but all of the Bravos assure Josh that they're fine. When Day asks to go find Destiny's Child, Josh says that he thinks they're already gone. Billy doesn't even ask again for his Advil.
When Billy decides to not even ask about the Advil, it suggests that he's giving in to the dehumanization and is losing hope that anyone will treat him as fully human. The fact that Destiny's Child left also reinforces the assertion that Bravo's desires aren't being taken into account at all.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
As Lodis, Crack, and Mango tend to their injuries in the bathroom, everyone else calls home. Patty answers Billy's call and asks about Beyoncé. Billy deems her "thick through the hips" and insists that that's as close as he got to Destiny's Child. When Patty asks, Billy throws out the names of other celebrities he's met, and then Patty asks what Billy was doing when he was looking at the sky. Billy is disturbed to learn that they showed a relatively close shot of him doing so, and he tells Patty he doesn't remember it.
Showing Billy looking at the sky as such a close shot tells Billy a disturbing truth: the symptoms of his PTSD are visually interesting according to the film crew, offering another example of the media choosing to mask the horrors of war or not call them what they are for the sake of creating a spectacle.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Kathryn takes the phone and tells Billy about playing with Brian in the snow all morning. She steps outside and lowers her voice as she tells him that Patty shared what he said about not letting Brian join the Army. She says she doesn't think Billy should go back, and shares that she called the group in Austin that helps soldiers. Apparently, they've been hoping a war hero like Billy might reach out so that the movement could rally behind him, and Billy tries to change the subject. Kathryn pushes ahead and says that someone can pick up Billy from the airport and fly him to a secluded ranch until the legal stuff gets sorted out, but Billy says that they shoot soldiers for deserting.
Though the group in Austin probably has good intentions, the way Kathryn mentions that they'd been hoping for someone like Billy indicates that they have a political agenda too. This shows that just like Norm, Alfred, and the President, this group isn't above using soldiers as bargaining chips or symbols for their own political gain. Using the war in this way only reinforces how absurd the war is. It doesn't seem to be about the oil; it's about politics.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Kathryn points out that this group has a PR firm capable of making the government look terrible for prosecuting Billy and insists that he's too sane to go back. Billy admits that he wants to go back. Kathryn screams, but Billy says he can't let Bravo go back without him. He says that he signed up and has to go, but Kathryn insists that it's her fault he had to do that in the first place. She angrily says they don't deserve to have soldiers die when the country's leaders lie, and she breaks down crying. When she recovers, she tells Billy she gave the group his number. He grits his teeth as Kathryn hands the phone off to Denise, and he envisions how they'd fare if he were to die. He decides that Denise would die a slow death.
Kathryn's assertion that Billy is too sane to go back is another nod to Catch-22, in which the paradox has to do with one's sanity dictating whether or not they can fly missions. By altering that paradox some and having Billy want to go back because of the bond he shares with the other Bravos, Fountain insists that though war is certainly something that happens on a large scale, the people involved make decisions based on their individual relationships on a much smaller scale.
Themes
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
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Denise harrumphs about how lewd the halftime show was, becoming more and more righteous. Billy asks about Thanksgiving dinner and about Ray, who is watching the game with Patty's husband. Denise asks if Billy has a coat, and then starts to rush him off the phone. Billy feels exasperated, as this could be the last time they talk, so he uncharacteristically tells her he loves her. She hangs up quickly anyway, and Billy feels suddenly filled with grief. He reminds himself that he might not die in Iraq, and given how things have already gone for him, he has a reasonable chance of coming home again.
Billy's attempt to tell himself that that his prior good luck has any bearing on his future luck is a poignant reminder that Billy desperately wants to believe that the war functions in a logical way, and that he has control over his outcome. By reminding the reader that Billy might not make it through, the novel reinforces the fact that Billy is human and not in control of his future.
Themes
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon