Nick Nunez 12/5/17English 102Billy Lynn’s Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk The book Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, exemplifies what a young soldier coming back from war is like. The story allows the readers to get inside the mind of 19 year old Billy Lynn who is considered a war hero along with the rest of his team, Bravo Squad, for the heroic acts they did back in their previous tour in Iraq. The battle of “Al- Ansakar Canal” was the famous brutal firefight against the insurgents that involved the men of Bravo Squad.
In the midst of the fight, the brave acts these soldiers accomplished were caught on tape by Fox News and had spread like wildfire and introduced a sense of patriotism to those watching. When returning back home and being seen as celebrity figures, Billy and the rest of Bravo Squad knew the amount of interviews, questions, and expressions of gratitude they were about to receive were going to seem never ending. Whenever Billy got asked about the battle, he couldn’t really answer the question himself either, despite being there. He saw it as just a blur, or a distant faded memory. In his head he knew just as much of the battle as anyone else. This was the battle him and the rest of the Bravo squad were being honored and toured around the country for and the certain thought of it consistently battled in Billy’s head. The Victory Tour was another name for it, seemed to just be some kind of publicity stunt to get attention from the media and the rest of the country, as it was a way to increase public support for the war. And now with Thanksgiving coming around the corner shortly after Bravos arrival back home, part of the Victory Tour has them as guests on the halftime show of the Dallas Cowboys game.
For most of the story, the soldiers didn’t know what they were getting themselves into during the halftime show and Billy thought to himself whether being in Iraq actually seemed like less of a nerve wracking experience than being on stage for the whole world to see what he and the rest of Bravo Squad were being told to do. When he meets and falls in love with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, Faison, that’s when his internal battle of staying home or going back to Iraq comes into play. I think Billy’s sister Kathryn feels like it’s all her fault that Billy’s in the war in the first place. That herself getting into the car accident, being hospitalized and leaving scars all over her face, resulted in her fiance leaving her. Leading Billy to do destroy his car and being sent to the Army.
But he knew it wasn’t her fault at all, it was his own decision to do what he did, no one inspired him to commit the crime. Kathryn knows Billy suffers from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and uses that as a way to get Billy an honorable discharge from going back. She found lawyers who could help Billy in staying home, as her way of taking away the guilt she feels. She probably feels as if Billy dies in the war, the blood is on her hands and her hands only.
In the beginning of the story we already start to see signs of Billy’s PTSD. His flashbacks of what happened in the battle always going back to Sergeant Shroom and the life lessons he learned from him. Shroom was killed before the book even starts, but we know he had a huge impact on Billy, and Billy probably saw him as a more of a father figure than his own biological one. The war flashbacks and constant signs of trauma, this was big concern for all the soldiers, as many of the loud noises or exotic scenery being played during a regular halftime show could easily bring a dormant soldier back to his frightening days in war.
Even for those who don’t suffer from PTSD, could see it as very loud and overbearing. Again none of them were not sure what they were going to be doing during the show. But their prior knowledge of what happens during halftime shows knew it could trigger an internal fear. With Billy it can be seen with his fear and anxiety with looking up to the sky. In the story, it says “Billy waves but won’t look up. He’s working hard. He’s climbing for his life”, “he’s found himself unnerved by immensities– water towers, skyscrapers. Just driving by the Washington Monument made him weak in the knees, the way that structure drew a high pitched kneeing from all the soulless sky around it”(21) This same reaction of looking up changes later on, and maybe it is or isn’t necessarily correlated to having PTSD, but towards the end of the halftime show, Billy’s fear turns into a state of tranquility.
It says, “he raises his eyes to the sky, then lifts his face a few degrees to get the weathers full effect. Everything else falls away and he’s happy, free. It feels like the future”(240) This was Billys was of escaping the harsh realities that life brings when you include war into it as well. Billy just wants to find himself, find his purpose, and figure out what he needs to do to live the life he wants. He is in the constant struggle of knowing he suffers from PTSD and could stay home under honorable discharge, pleasing his sister and staying with his love companion, Faison, or he could ignore it and be re-deployed, honoring his brotherhood with his soldiers in Bravo Squad. If he stayed home he would be seen as a let down from his fellow squad mates, and if he goes back to war, he knows he might never see Faison or his family ever again.
I see it as his first battle he fought alone without his soldiers by his side, his internal conflict exceeded everything else he was facing on the outside. Knowing he has PTSD, I think he should have stayed home at the end instead of going back. He could have gotten the help he knows he needs.
Avoiding a problem is never the solution to solving one, and sooner or later it will come back, no matter how far you run from it.