Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

by

Ben Fountain

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Bravo makes their way back to their seats, some people stop them to shake hands, but not as many as before. Major Mac has been sitting in their row, and Billy once again ends up in the aisle seat. The Bravos begin to feel as though their situation is pretty terrible—the game is dull, they're sitting in the freezing rain, and they fly back to Iraq in two days. Mango and Billy discuss how tired they are and laugh at Mango's mangled ear. Fans around them cover themselves with blankets and umbrellas, but Bravo sits exposed.
From this point to the end of the novel, the degree to which Bravo are treated like celebrities diminishes. Bravo is abandoned after the halftime show, suggesting that the media and the Cowboys staff have already gotten what they wanted out of the soldiers, so Bravo is no longer important to them.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
Billy pulls his phone out and tells Mango he's in love. Mango laughs and agrees, noting that it's awful that Billy falls in love right before they leave. Billy moans as the Jumbotron plays car ads, and strangely, Sykes starts singing. Apparently, Dime gave Sykes Valium, and now Sykes is thrilled with life.
Billy falling in love right before Bravo redeploys is proof that life and the war aren't logical: life happens when it happens, regardless of whether or not it makes sense or makes things easy.
Themes
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Billy's phone rings, startling him. It's not Faison, so he lets it ring. After the caller leaves a voicemail, Billy listens to it and then sits back. He reasons that Shroom would definitely return to war, but Billy doesn't know what he should do. He closes his eyes and envisions himself at the secluded ranch. In his daydream Faison steps out of the trees, and they go on to have lots of sex, and Billy applies himself to studying like Shroom did. That way, Billy reasons, when he has to face the government, he'll be ready.
The caller is someone from the group in Austin, given that the voicemail leads Billy to think about what he'll do. When Billy frames the choice in terms of what Shroom would do, as well as when he mentions applying himself like Shroom did, it shows that Billy received more mentoring and care from Shroom than he has from anyone else.
Themes
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
Sykes's singing pulls Billy out of his reverie. The nice boojee lady sitting in front of Bravo notices that Lodis is fast asleep in the freezing rain, and she asks the others if the Army even gives soldiers coats. Crack assures her that they're too dumb to care about the weather, and Mango demonstrates how he can hit Lodis to make sure he's still alive. Though Lodis jumps, he doesn't wake up. The boojee lady digs in her bag and pulls out a snuggie. She covers Lodis with it, and the Bravos make him a sign that says, "homeless vet—will slay vampires for food."
Like Hector, the boojee lady is someone who appears to truly care about the fate of the troops. Though sharing her snuggie is a small act of kindness, it's something concrete that she can actually do to help the troops. Covering Lodis also acknowledges that he's human, and though the others deny it, he's certainly cold and uncomfortable in the freezing rain.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
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After the Cowboys fumble their next pass, the boojee lady and her friends get up to leave. Mango reminds her to take her snuggie, but she insists on leaving it with Lodis. The Bravos thank her as she leaves, and Mango comments on how nice she was. Mango tries to convince Billy that he needs to find a way to have sex with Faison before they leave, insisting that she'll be all for it if she truly wants to support the troops.
Mango thinks of sex in much the same way he thinks about the boojee lady's snuggie: it's something concrete that can be given to support the troops. Further, sex also acknowledges that soldiers are humans with human desires, not props or subhuman beings.
Themes
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
Billy's phone rings. It's Kathryn, and he doesn't pick up. She texts him a few minutes later, telling him in all caps to call the organization back. Billy listens again to the voicemail from the group's representative, trying to figure out what kind of person he might be. Suddenly, Dime comes down the row and crouches in the aisle next to Billy. He says he can't stand Sykes right now but claims that he had to do something. To himself, Dime says that Sykes is going to be okay.
Dime's mumbling to himself shows that he cares for his men and wants to do whatever it takes to make them comfortable, even if the result drives him nuts. Despite the dysfunction within the group, this indicates that at its heart, the Bravos deeply care for each other and will sacrifice their own comfort for that of others.
Themes
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Billy asks Dime if he would go back to Iraq if he had a choice. Dime insists they don't have a choice, so it doesn't matter. They argue for a minute until Billy agrees that they don't have a choice. Dime says that because of that, they're going to take care of each other, though he admits he'd be fine never being in another firefight. He picks up a phone call, which is apparently about the movie. Dime asks Billy if he'd be available for a meeting with Norm. Confused, Billy agrees. After he hangs up, Dime says that rich people are crazy, and tells Billy to remember that.
Dime's assertion that he simply doesn't have a choice is a way of coping with the absurdity of the war and his lack of control to do anything about it. It recalls the earlier mentions of compartmentalizing, as deciding he doesn't have a choice is a good way to simply not have to think about the fact that he has very little power in the grand scheme of the Army and of the war.
Themes
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon