Study Guide

Johnny Got His Gun Chapter 16

By Dalton Trumbo

Chapter 16

  • High on morphine, Joe experiences different sensations, including touch, colors, and music. Then there's a silence, and suddenly Joe feels like he's falling. Things are about to get really trippy.
  • Joe whirls around faster and faster, and then he sees a light.
  • Suddenly, there's one voice that fills the universe. It's the voice of the woman at the train station from the day Joe left Los Angeles, the one who was asking where her sixteen-year-old son was. Joe equates the missing boy with Christ, and imagines him coming out of the desert wearing purple robes. He sits down with the other men waiting at the railway station.
  • The men are playing blackjack in a room somewhere. There is a guy with red hair who's dealing, and there's also a guy who looks like a Swede. The Swede complains about not having anything to drink, and Christ conjures up some sixteen-year-old whiskey.
  • Christ hits on a twelve and busts (that's blackjack jargon). He complains that he can never hit a twelve and asks why a twelve should be any harder than a thirteen (cough thirteenth apostle reference cough).
  • The redheaded guy stretches and says that it's time to board the train. He says that he's going to be killed on the 27th of June and that he needs to say goodbye to his wife and baby kid. His kid is only eight months old, and he wishes he could see him when he turns five, but, alas, he's going to die instead. He recounts to everybody exactly how he is going to die: he's going to get shot during an offensive.
  • The little guy says that they're all going to die, and he tells them how it will go down for each of them: by flu, by a bomb, by a trench cave-in. Then they hear a high thin music, and Christ says that it is the music of death.
  • The little guy indicates Joe and asks why he's there with them if he's not going to die. Joe answers that he'll be the same as dead when his arms and legs and face are blown off. The others agree that Joe is probably worse off than they are, and they leave him alone.
  • They get on the train. The little guy asks if Christ is going with them, and Christ replies that he has lots of trains with dead men to visit.
  • Christ climbs onto the top of the train, and instead of the train's whistle, the noise is Christ screaming. Because things weren't eerie enough.
  • Now there is a shift in perspective. In the distance, there's a cloud in the middle of the desert, and Christ is coming out of it. Joe, who's neither alive nor dead, jumps out the window of the train and starts running towards Christ. He throws himself at Christ's feet and cries.

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