Study Guide

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Authenticity

By Ben Fountain

Authenticity

In addition to a serious case of PTSD, our hero in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is suffering from some potent '90s teen angst. He would fit right in with the store clerks from Empire Records, with their head-shaving and life crises at the ripe young age of 19. But unlike those legendary characters, Billy's anxiety stems from the fact that he's really been through some stuff, and his experiences have made it harder and harder to determine what's real. Is reality what he's seen in Iraq, or what's been packaged up and presented, shiny and clean, to the American people?

Questions About Authenticity

  1. Why does Billy feel smarmy when he has to talk with the well-wishers and the media?
  2. Does Billy think that some people are realer than others? If you could put his family on a spectrum from fake to real, where would his family members lie?
  3. What makes Billy question the authenticity of everything around him the most?
  4. Who is the real Billy: the talkative voice inside his head, or the stoic soldier?

Chew on This

Billy's family—as screwed up as it seems—is realer than Norm Oglesby's.

Authenticity is what you make of it. Just because marketing has decided to stamp a Cowboys logo on a toaster, that doesn't make it less real…or does it?

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...