Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

by

Ben Fountain

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bravo arrives at the stadium two hours before the kickoff. Nobody seems to know what to do with them, so they remain in their seats in the seventh row. Sykes and Lodis debate what it would cost to purchase the seats, as Billy chats with Mango. Next to Mango is A-bort, then Holliday, Lodis, Sykes, Crack, Dime, Albert, and finally, Major Mac. Billy looks at the sky through the open dome and thinks that though it's cold, he doesn't feel it. Dime suddenly asks Lodis how long a football field is. Lodis answers incorrectly, so Dime turns to Billy. Billy offers the correct answer, and Dime leads the rest of Bravo in applause. Billy is nervous about the way Dime is treating him, as he feels like it's punishment--but he can't figure out who's being punished.
The way that Dime barks at the platoon suggests that he's an authoritarian leader who feels the need to keep his soldiers on edge, just as Billy is feeling now. Even though the novel depicts the Bravos’ brotherhood as superior to any individual Bravo's family situation, this brotherhood is not without its dysfunctions. In addition, Sykes and Lodis' debate about the cost of the seats suggest that they, too, come from modest means, and that this experience is something entirely new for them.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Sykes begs Dime to allow him to place bets, but Dime refuses since Sykes maxed out his credit cards on porn not long ago. To escape Sykes, Dime jumps down to the sixth row of stadium seats and moves over to talk to Billy and Mango. Dime asks Billy his thoughts on Hilary Swank, and Billy expresses concern. Dime insists that weird is the new normal and makes digs at Billy's masculinity. When Billy reminds Dime that Swank wants to play him too, Dime says he'd be fine with it if Swank would be his girlfriend for a few weeks.
Syke's gambling and credit card problem humanizes him dramatically—he may be a hero, but he struggles with controlling his impulse just like other people do. Although the reader is given insight into these humanizing moments, the other characters the Bravos interact with are not. In this way, the novel encourages the reader to see the Bravos as humans, while making other people's dehumanizing treatment of the soldiers all the more shocking for the reader.
Themes
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
The narrator explains that Dime has a number of magazine subscriptions that he reads in addition to three or four books per week. He's a twenty-four-year-old college dropout and denies that he was a star quarterback in high school, though watching him throw a football suggests otherwise. Among the sergeants, he's known as "Fuckin' Liberal," but Billy eventually realized that Dime wasn't the only one who leaned left—Shroom also shared Dime's beliefs. Billy remembers a time when Cheney gave a speech where they were stationed, and Dime and Shroom cheered and shouted with such enthusiasm that their captain had passed them a note commanding them to stop. Cheney seemed to like the enthusiasm and didn't get the joke.
Dime is cognizant of the absurdity of the war. In contrast, the fact that Vice President Cheney was apparently unaware that Dime’s enthusiasm was false suggests that Cheney truly believed his audience fully supported the war, even at a time when, statistically speaking, a majority of the US did not support it. Dime’s false enthusiasm also shows that he is a master at figuring out ways to subvert the power systems, make his liberalism known, and, to an extent, use these skills to get his way.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
Dime calls down to Albert and says that Billy thinks Hilary Swank is weird. Albert says that Hilary is very nice and explains that playing a man would be a challenge for her. The narrator explains that Albert is attempting to get each Bravo $100,000 for their life story, plus a cut of other film profits. He's been in and out of the Victory Tour and has promised Bravo that he'd have a deal for them by Thanksgiving. Billy is beginning to fear that Albert won't be able to make it happen, but he keeps this fear to himself.
Albert's replies indicate that it's far more important to him to get the film made than to be true to the original story by casting someone other than Hilary Swank. Albert’s priorities show that money dictates how he moves through the world and conducts business.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
Get the entire Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk LitChart as a printable PDF.
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When Billy first joined Bravo, Dime and Shroom had taunted him endlessly. Finally, Billy addressed them and insisted that he wasn't a "delinquent punk." Shroom mentioned that Billy trashed a man's car, and Billy explained what happened. The car had belonged to his sister's fiancé. Kathryn had gotten into a car crash that should've killed her, but she miraculously survived. Her plastic surgeon assured her that she'd look normal again but pussy boy, as Billy calls him, had called off their engagement because he couldn't handle her mangled face.
The fact that Billy doesn't even talk about pussy boy by name suggests that Billy is fiercely loyal to his family, as he simply writes off and dehumanizes this person who wouldn't remain loyal to someone Billy loves. It's also worth noting that given the clues that point to Billy's family being lower class, the medical bills from an accident like this could have devastating consequences—further explaining Billy's earlier assertion that everything gets destroyed.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
Kathryn threw her ring in pussy boy's face, but Billy took it a step further by destroying the car with a crowbar two weeks before Billy was set to graduate. The school board allowed Billy to graduate, but he still faced felony charges for chasing pussy boy across the parking lot with the crowbar. Billy had been offered the deal of joining the Army in exchange for having the felony turned into "criminal mischief" on his record, and so he became a soldier. After Billy divulges this story, Dime and Shroom stopped tormenting him.
Destroying pussy boy's car allows Billy to take control of his belief in inevitable destruction and use it for his own good, thereby demonstrating family loyalty and giving pussy boy a lesson in real-life consequences. The fact that Dime and Shroom accept Billy's explanation show that they, too, value loyalty, which in turn helps cement the strong bond between them.
Themes
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon