Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Goodreads ratings
3.8 / 5

"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" Characters Analysis

By Ben Fountain

fiction | 335 pages | Published in 2012

ISBN_13: 9780857864390
ISBN_10: 0857864394

Estimated read time: 10 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Billy LynnProtagonist
ShroomMentor
Sergeant DimeSquad Leader
JoshBrother
AlbertFriend
KathrynCheerleader
NormFootball Coach
DallasTeam Owner
FaisonFellow Soldier

Role Identification

Billy Lynn

Billy Lynn is the protagonist and the main character of the novel. He is a nineteen-year-old soldier who has fought in Iraq and returned home hailed as a hero. The story revolves around Billy's experiences during a Thanksgiving Day football game halftime show.

Shroom

Shroom serves as a mentor figure to Billy and is an experienced soldier who has served in the Iraq War. He is wise and philosophical, providing guidance and support to Billy throughout the novel.

Sergeant Dime

Sergeant Dime is the squad leader of Bravo Squad. He is tough but also caring towards his fellow soldiers. Dime's leadership and desire to protect his squadmates play a significant role in shaping the narrative.

Josh

Josh is Billy's brother who also serves in the military. He provides a contrasting perspective to Billy and plays a vital role in highlighting the familial bond between the two brothers.

Albert

Albert is one of Billy's friends and comrades in Bravo Squad. He is loyal and provides moments of comic relief in the midst of the intense and emotional events of the novel.

Kathryn

Kathryn is a cheerleader who forms a connection with Billy during the halftime show. She becomes a symbol of hope and the possibility of normalcy for Billy amidst the chaos of his wartime experiences.

Norm

Norm is the football coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He represents the commercialization and superficiality of American culture, contrasting with the harsh realities of war that Billy and his fellow soldiers have faced.

Dallas

Dallas is the eccentric and wealthy team owner of the Dallas Cowboys. He symbolizes the disconnect between the privileged elite and the soldiers who have sacrificed so much.

Faison

Faison is one of Billy's fellow soldiers, a member of Bravo Squad. He is portrayed as a hot-headed and impulsive character, highlighting the diverse personalities and dynamics within the group.

Character Descriptions

Billy Lynn

Billy Lynn is a young soldier with an innocent face and a muscular build. He possesses a maturity and introspection beyond his years, shaped by his experiences in combat. War has both physically and emotionally affected him, and his eyes reflect the trauma he has witnessed.

Shroom

Shroom is a weathered and wise soldier. He has gray hair and a scruffy beard, giving him an appearance of wisdom and experience. His eyes hold a deep understanding of the world, and his voice conveys a calm and knowledgeable presence.

Sergeant Dime

Sergeant Dime is a strong and authoritative figure with a no-nonsense demeanor. He is physically imposing, with a muscular build and a stern expression. His body language exudes confidence and command.

Josh

Josh is a slightly younger version of Billy, with a similar appearance but a more carefree attitude. His body language suggests a sense of playfulness and mischief, contrasting with the weight of responsibility Billy carries.

Albert

Albert has a compact build and a shaved head, making him easily recognizable. He often wears a mischievous smirk and exudes energy and humor. His movements are quick and nimble, a reflection of his vibrant personality.

Kathryn

Kathryn is a stunningly beautiful cheerleader with long blond hair and a captivating smile. Her movements are graceful and alluring, captivating Billy's attention. Her cheerleading outfit symbolizes youth, optimism, and the American Dream.

Norm

Norm is a middle-aged man with a slightly overweight physique. He has a commanding presence and a stern expression on his face. He often wears a suit, reflecting his professional role as the football coach.

Dallas

Dallas is a flamboyant and eccentric billionaire team owner. He dresses in extravagant attire, favoring vibrant colors and flashy accessories. His body language exudes confidence and entitlement, with a constant air of self-assurance.

Faison

Faison is a young soldier with a lean and athletic build. He carries himself with a swagger, reflecting his hot-headed personality. Faison's body language is often aggressive and confrontational, reflecting his impulsive nature.

Character Traits

Billy Lynn

Brave, introspective, traumatized, observant, loyal.

Shroom

Wise, philosophical, calm, knowledgeable, mentor.

Sergeant Dime

Authoritative, protective, caring, experienced, leader.

Josh

Carefree, playful, loyal, youthful, brotherly.

Albert

Energetic, humorous, mischievous, loyal, friend.

Kathryn

Beautiful, captivating, hopeful, empathetic, symbol of normalcy.

Norm

Commanding, stern, professional, representative of commercialism.

Dallas

Eccentric, flamboyant, confident, entitled, representative of privilege.

Faison

Hot-headed, impulsive, confrontational, intense, tough.

Character Background

Billy Lynn

Billy Lynn hails from a working-class family and is disillusioned with his life before enlisting in the military. Having served in Iraq, his background is emblematic of many young soldiers who come from marginalized communities seeking a way out and a sense of purpose.

Shroom

Shroom is a seasoned soldier who has experienced multiple tours of duty in Iraq. His background is filled with his own trials and tribulations, ultimately shaping him into a knowledgeable and compassionate mentor figure for Billy.

Sergeant Dime

Sergeant Dime comes from a military family and has dedicated his life to serving his country. He has seen his fair share of action and carries the weight of the responsibility of leading his squad.

Josh

Josh, like Billy, comes from a working-class background. His decision to join the military was driven by a sense of duty and the desire to protect his country. He serves as a reminder of the shared experiences and sacrifices within the Lynn family.

Albert

Albert grew up in a similar environment to Billy and Josh. His decision to join the military was influenced by the lack of opportunities available to him in his hometown. He seeks camaraderie and a sense of belonging within Bravo Squad.

Kathryn

Kathryn is a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys and represents the American Dream. Her background is one of privilege and opportunity that contrasts with the harsh realities of war faced by Billy and his squadmates.

Norm

Norm's background is rooted in the world of football and the commercialization of sports. He represents the superficiality of American culture, contrasting with the life-and-death situations faced by Billy and the soldiers.

Dallas

Dallas comes from a wealthy background and has inherited his team ownership. His background is one of privilege and excess, which often leads him to be disconnected from the struggles of the soldiers he invites to the halftime show.

Faison

Faison's background is similar to Billy and Albert, having grown up in a working-class environment. His decision to enlist in the military was fueled by a need to escape his circumstances and to prove himself.

Character Arcs

Billy Lynn

Billy's character arc involves his journey from naïveté and idealism about war and heroism to a more cynical and critical understanding of the American public's perception of soldiers. He grapples with the dissonance between the complexities of his experiences in Iraq and the simplified narratives perpetuated by society.

Shroom

While Shroom appears in flashbacks and memories, his character arc revolves around his mentorship of Billy. Shroom imparts his wisdom and philosophical perspective on the futility of war, ultimately influencing Billy's own transformation.

Sergeant Dime

Sergeant Dime's character arc involves his role as a protector and leader of Bravo Squad. He faces challenges in navigating the dangerous situations they encounter during the halftime show while also struggling with his own personal demons.

Josh

Josh's character arc revolves around his bond with Billy and their shared military experiences. He acts as a sounding board and confidant for Billy, providing perspective and a sense of familial connection throughout the novel.

Albert

Albert's character arc involves his role as a loyal friend and comic relief within the squad. He offers support to Billy and serves as a source of levity to counterbalance the intense events surrounding them.

Kathryn

Kathryn's character arc centers on her relationship with Billy and their brief connection during the halftime show. She represents the possibility of a more normal and hopeful future for Billy, providing him with a temporary respite from the realities of war.

Norm

Norm's character arc showcases his superficiality and the commercialization of American culture. Throughout the novel, his interactions with the soldiers highlight his lack of understanding and empathy for their experiences.

Dallas

Dallas's character arc revolves around his interaction with the soldiers and his realization of the disconnect between his privileged lifestyle and the sacrifices made by those in the military. He undergoes a transformation in his perception of the soldiers as more than just props for the halftime show.

Faison

Faison's character arc involves his growth and development as a soldier. He starts as a hot-headed and impulsive individual but matures through the challenges faced during the halftime show, ultimately realizing the importance of unity within Bravo Squad.

Relationships

Billy has complex relationships with various characters in the novel:

  • Shroom serves as a mentor figure to Billy, offering guidance and wisdom.
  • Sergeant Dime plays the role of a strict but caring squad leader.
  • Billy has a close bond with his brother Josh, sharing their experiences and providing support for each other.
  • Albert is Billy's loyal friend, offering humor and camaraderie.
  • Kathryn serves as a brief source of hope and connection for Billy during the halftime show.
  • Billy's relationship with Norm highlights the contrast between soldiers and the commercialization of American culture.
  • Dallas's relationship with Billy highlights the disconnect between the privileged elite and the soldiers on the front lines.
  • Billy's relationship with Faison evolves from initial tension to a strong bond within Bravo Squad.

In conclusion, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" presents a diverse cast of characters with distinct roles, backgrounds, and relationships. Each character serves a purpose in exploring the complexities of war, heroism, and the challenges faced by soldiers. The character arcs and dynamics within the novel provide a thought-provoking analysis of societal perceptions of war and the impact it has on those who serve.