The Portrayal of War in Billy Lynn`s Long Halftime Walk

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ThePortrayal of War in Billy Lynn`s Long Halftime Walk

BenFountain’s book, ‘BillyLynn`s Long Halftime Walk,’reviews a typical day in the life of Iraq war heroes. The heroes areBilly Lyn and his seven colleagues in the Bravo team. The storyfocuses on the last day the soldiers spend in American beforereturning in Iraq. The members are honored through various ways suchas showing up at halftime at a Dallas Cowboys football game. The bookexplores Billy’s experiences, feelings and thoughts of hisparticipation in the war. The public deems the soldiers as heroeswhile the government considers the team a suitable platform forbuilding the public relationship in the war. The book portrays waras a stage for Americans to enhance their supremacy and fame in theworld because the government uses the recognition of the soldiers tolobby for public approval for continued foreign combat missions.

Thesoldiers attend various functions where they interact with the publicduring the government-sponsored tour in the U.S. A. It becomesevident that they suffer from the horror and trauma war causes asthey express their grief for losing their colleagues. For example,Billy reveals to Pastor Rick that he felt as if he had died afterShroom, his colleague, died in his arms at the battlefield. “Evenharder was describing his sense that Shroom’s death might haveruined him for anything else, because when he died? when I felt hissoul pass through me? I loved him so much right then, I don’t thinkI can ever have that kind of love for anybody again”(Fountain 129). The mental anguish the soldiers suffer for long theirfriends in the war deserves critical medical attention to help themrecover from the shock. Unfortunately, the government is focused ontaking advantage of the soldiers’ fame to convince the publicconcerning the importance of American soldiers continued the fight inforeign countries such as Iraq. The action of the government portraysthe American government as only interested with the outcome of thewar without caring about the soldiers’ welfare. At no time are thefighters provided with medical care to ensure they are sane and fitfor the military duties.

Anotherinstance to prove that Americans take advantage of the war toincrease their fame and political agendas lies with Albert’s effortto persuade the Bravo team into making a movie out of theirexperiences in the war. ‘“Okaylook, how about this for politics. My guys are heroes, right?Americans, right? They’re unequivocally on the right side and theyalso unequivocally kicked ass, now when was the last time thathappened for this country?’(Fountain 38). Albert advocates making a political movie that wouldportray American supremacy using the soldiers’ victory in combatingterrorists in Iraq. In his next chat with the Bravo team at thefootball arena, Albert makes it apparent to the team that theintention of the movie is to capitalize on the fame of the team tomake a movie that would generate high returns. He plans to achievehis ambition through portraying American supremacy and politicaladvancement that would appeal the masses. In my view, a suitablemovie would focus on educating the public the pain the soldiersexperience in the war, the losses they suffer as well as the grievefamilies of the fallen soldier experience after losing their lovedones in the war.

Faison,the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader Billy falls in love with, promisesto love him. Similarly, Billy also feels attracted to her. Hispassion towards the girlfriend leads him to hint that they can escapeto a place where they can have some privacy. However, Faison isastonished by Billy’s comment. “Shelifts her head, and with that one look he knows it’s not to be. Herconfusion decides it, that flicker of worry in her eyes. What is hetalking about? Fear of losing her binds him firmly to the hero he hasto be” (Fountain305). The reaction is evident that Faison would not like Billy toescape from the military because he would lose his heroism fame.Consequently, she is attracted to Billy’s celebrity status insteadof him as a person. Her perception represents a majority of theAmerican’s attitude towards foreign American military excursion.The nation just wants to prove to the world that they are thedominant economic and military state in the world.

Onthe same note, Billy has second thoughts about going back to Iraq. For instance, he contemplates escaping from the military with Faisonso that they can get married and live a quiet life where he would besafe from the risk of dying in the war (Fountain 305). However, hefeels obliged by his newly acquired status to remain with his unitbecause he will both lose his fame if he goes AWOL, and Americanswould deem him a traitor for failing to advance their militarysupremacy agenda. Subsequently, he turns down his sister’s(Kathryn) offer to quit the army with the assistance of a lobby groupagainst the war based on Austin. At the back of his mind, Billy wouldlike to leave the military career but he cannot. Firstly, he isafraid he would be executed for the offense. “That’sAWOL, Kathryn. They shoot people for that”(Fountain 305). Secondly, he is worried the Americans will hate himfor escaping from the service that he signed for. ‘“ButI do. I can’t stay here if the rest of the squad’s going back. Ifthey’re over there getting shot at, I want to be there too”(Fountain 305). The statement proves that he is going back he feelsobliged by the reaction of the people if he absconds duty instead ofhis patriotism and readiness to die for his nation. He would ratherbreak family ties, but maintain his reputation as a dutiful soldierfighting helping the Americans to use war as a stage for Americans toenhance their supremacy and fame in the world that helps them tocontrol other sovereign states affairs, instead of solving theproblems of the local population.

Insummary, ‘Billy Lynn`s Long Halftime Walk,’ portrays war as astage for Americans to enhance their supremacy and fame in the worldbecause the government uses the recognition of the soldiers to lobbyfor public approval for continued foreign combat missions. Theypraise and shower the surviving soldiers with immense praise towardstheir accomplishment in successfully combating the insurgents inIraq. The soldiers are given national tour across the country sothat they can gain the public trust towards American militaryexpedition in Iraq and other countries. Faison’s determination thatBilly remains in the military indicates that she love his celebritystatus. Subsequently, she expresses surprise when he suggests that hecan leave the army so that they can enjoy life away from the constantdanger prevalent in the warzone.


Fountain,Ben. BillyLynn`s Long Halftime Walk.New York: Ecco, 2012. Print.

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