Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

by

Ben Fountain

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Billy spends the next half hour unaware of his surroundings, and finally arrives at the football field. Mango declares that it's going to snow, and everyone else chatters about the movie. Apparently, Norm himself is interested in funding the film. Billy realizes that films get made when someone is able to convince everyone else that the film will get made, which he thinks is a questionable business model. As Albert talks on his phone on one side of Bravo, and Norm conducts his own phone call on the other side, Lodis and Crack discuss what they'll buy with their money and who will play them in the movie. Crack whines that if Norm really wants to support the troops, he'd fund the film.
Billy doesn’t like how in Hollywood business model, getting something done hinges on convincing others that there's no choice but to do it. Incidentally, this is precisely how the war in Iraq was sold to the American public. This draws a very overt connection between Hollywood and politics, suggesting that politics is as much a performance and an effort to sell as the Hollywood film industry is.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
Billy desperately wants to ask Dime for advice regarding what happened with Faison, but Dime is in a funk. Billy wonders if what happened was even real, but he notices that his back hurts and strands of her hair are stuck to his shoulders. He decides he needs to know how to make it work with Faison. Josh interrupts Billy's reverie by leading several cheerleaders over to them. Josh pulls a bunch of footballs out of a duffel bag and explains that Bravo is to hold the footballs during the shoot. When Bravo asks Josh about halftime, Josh still doesn't have any information. They ask that he not make them do anything lame or hard.
Just like not having Advil for Billy, not having any information about the halftime show is one more way that the Cowboys staff shows Bravo that they are a low priority. In this instance, it seems that the staff doesn't care enough about Bravo to give them a heads up about something that will go on national television. Instead, the Bravos are toted around as props.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
Lodis complains about the cold wind, and Day bullies Josh into walking past Norm and listening in on Norm's conversation. When Josh returns, he has disappointing news: Norm is talking about football, not the movie. Billy picks up a football, tosses it to Dime, and runs. Billy manages to catch the ball, throw it back to Dime, and run further into the end zone. As Dime and Billy throw the ball back and forth, cheers rise up from the end zone crowd. Billy feels good and in control. As he pivots to throw the ball back, he sees three footballs sailing towards him.
Billy doesn't have to say much of anything to communicate his intentions to Dime, which shows how close the bond is between the Bravos, and how that bond can translate into a number of different areas. Meanwhile, Norm's conversation about football rather than Bravo’s movie tells the reader where Norm's interests truly lie.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
Family and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Mango, Lodis, Sykes, Crack, and A-bort join in, and Bravo plays a loose version of tackle football with no rules, laughing the entire time. Billy thinks that if football were always like this, it'd be a fantastic sport, but rules have ruined it. He considers how rules hide the fact that men and boys just want to run and knock into each other. He realizes that the Army does basically the same thing of rationalizing violence.
Here, Billy connects rules and regulations to the way in which both football and the military rationalize violence and hide the fact that they are exceedingly dangerous pursuits.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Several large men in a golf cart, all wearing Cowboys coats, drive up and yell at Bravo to get off their field. The Bravos mock the men and run off the field as fans boo in the end zone. As two women with pinched faces arrange the Bravos, Norm tells Dime that he questions where Hollywood's loyalties lie, given that they won't make films that "reflect what America's really all about." They agree that setting Bravo's story in World War II is silly.
Here, Norm tries to position himself as a good old American boy who wholeheartedly supports the troops, though it's worth remembering Crack's earlier comment that if Norm wanted to support the troops, he'd fund the film immediately. This shows that Norm might not be as invested as the Bravos hope he is, since he hasn't yet committed even though he voices support for the film.
Themes
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
Heroism and Humanity Theme Icon
As the cameras roll, Dime speaks his line, wishing Americans a happy Thanksgiving and then abandoning the script to address the troops in the field. The Bravos laugh, but the directors aren't pleased. Dime again veers off of the script for the second take. Lodis and Sykes laugh during the third, and a fan screams at them during the fourth. The directors call a break, and Billy backs into a huddle of three cheerleaders. They tell him that Faison wasn't included in the shoot because she's new, but the conversation dies after they ask about Billy's Silver Star, and he recites the official spiel as to how one earns it.
By going off script, Dime attempts to circumvent some of the Fantasy Industrial Complex and show soldiers in Iraq that someone is aware of what's going on. When the cheerleaders lose interest in Billy, it reinforces the idea that those at home aren't particularly interested in the specifics of the military. They want to hear a dramatic story, not boring bureaucracy, which is really how Silver Stars get distributed.
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon
The directors call everyone back for a fifth take, but the cameras glitch. While they wait, Billy listens to Dime and Norm discuss Albert and the film. Norm mentions that he thinks Hilary Swank's involvement is "nutty," and he mentions a movie that she was in with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dime corrects him, noting that the particular movie featured Jamie Lee Curtis, not Hilary Swank. Norm insists the movie was still bad. Billy watches Albert put his phone away and wishes Albert had more at stake in the film. The fifth take goes smoothly, and Norm instructs the Bravos to hang onto their footballs so that they can get some "ink."
Billy recognizes that Albert still doesn't have anything but money and a two-week relationship with the Bravos at stake in the movie. Albert is truly a representation of the Complex, as he hopes to capitalize on the drama of the Bravos' story to earn money, regardless of how the story changes (by casting Hilary Swank, for example).
Themes
Fantasy vs. Reality in the Media Theme Icon
Class, Power, and Money Theme Icon
The Absurdity of War Theme Icon