Study Guide

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Genre

By Ben Fountain

Genre

War Drama, Quest, Family Drama

War Drama

Okay, so Billy Lynn is not a war drama the way, say, Band of Brothers is. This book doesn't focus on battle, or warfare strategies, or really even the hardships involved with deployment. What it does dwell on are the ways in which warfare can really mess with your mind, and to that end, we think Billy Lynn qualifies. War is a defining element of the narrative.

Quest

There may be no epic journey here, at least in a literal sense, but even though his distance isn't great (seriously…it's like the length of a football field, which is either 100 or 120 yards long, depending on who you ask), and even though he really a set goal in mind (get drunk? survive halftime? get laid?), Billy does overcome a bunch of obstacles and accomplish great things. By the end of the book, in fact, he's realized that he's a different man from what he thought he was, and that could be a kind of quest, couldn't it?

Family Drama

Whether we're talking about Billy's biological family and all of their issues, or the Bravos and their convoluted sense of family, this book totally fits the mold for the Family Drama genre.

Let's break it down. First, the Lynn Family. They are messed up. Billy's dad is emotionally abusive, his mom is a shadow of her former self, his older sister is a disillusioned and haunted version of her former self, and his younger sister has been maimed and subsequently dumped, leaving her trapped and bitter. Because of the medical bills Kathryn and dear old Dad have racked up, the Lynn family is this close to bankruptcy, and they're too dysfunctional to find a way to solve their financial woes.

Yeah. There's a fair amount of drama there.

Then, if you consider Bravo company a weird little family unit, you see that they have plenty of their own drama. Gambling debts, porn addiction, daddy issues, racial tension? Check, check, check, and check. All of this has been simmering in a context of war, death, and loss. Yup. Drama. Family. Boom.

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