Study Guide

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Separateness

By Ben Fountain

Separateness

Ever since going to war, Billy finds he can't help but have a kind of us-versus-them mentality when it comes to the civilians he loves back home. They haven't done the things he's done, or seen the terrible things he's seen, and it separates him from them on an intangible but really deep level. But when it comes to his fellow soldiers, Billy also feels separate and alone, since none of them are able (or willing?) to truly talk about everything they've been through. So in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, our hero is stuck in his own head, feeling like he's operating on a different plane from everyone else.

Questions About Separateness

  1. Is Billy jealous of the civilians for their ignorance about the war? Or is he just resentful?
  2. Why can't Billy's family connect on a less superficial level?
  3. Why is there such a gap between Billy and (what feels like) everyone else? Is it all in his head? Is there anyone that Billy does connect with?

Chew on This

It's Billy's own fault that he feels so separate from everyone else: he won't even try to reach out and communicate.

There's no going back from what Billy has experienced, so his feelings of estrangement are real and permanent.

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