Study Guide

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Warfare

By Ben Fountain

Warfare

Even though Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a book about a war hero, the actual warfare we see is brief and fleeting. We catch only vague glimpses of Billy's experiences in flashbacks to a battle at the Al-Ansakar Canal, and the descriptions of the Fox footage that made the Bravos all famous is brief. It's like war via Snapchat: quick snippets of random violence that interrupt Billy's days and draw him away from reality all too often. Because despite being a part of the world's greatest military machine, Billy can't get over the surprising randomness that pervades his whole experience of war.

Questions About Warfare

  1. What part of warfare is the most disturbing to Billy?
  2. What do you think Fountain's message is about the war?
  3. Fountain likes to make comparisons between Bravo and the soldiers who fought in WWII. How is the war in Iraq different from World War II, and what impact does this difference have on how we view the warfare Billy has participated in?

Chew on This

Putting your feet one in front of the other when sitting in the Humvee could be the difference between saving your leg and losing both legs.

It doesn't matter how you hold your feet when you sit down: there's no way to know what will happen in war, and it's useless to think you have control over any aspect of it.

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