Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

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A finalist for the National Book Award!

A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child.

Among the Bravos is the Silver Star–winning hero of Al-Ansakar Canal, Specialist William Lynn, a nineteen-year-old Texas native. Amid clamoring patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers on their cars, the Bravos are thrust into the company of the Cowboys' hard-nosed businessman/owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a luscious born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized pro players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Among these faces Billy sees those of his family—his worried sisters and broken father—and Shroom, the philosophical sergeant who opened Billy's mind and died in his arms at Al-Ansakar.

Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms—soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.

Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a devastating portrait of our time, a searing and powerful novel that cements Ben Fountain's reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation.

Curriculet Details
68 Questions
70 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school school students contains interactive videos exploring conflict and irony, as well as annotations describing character development, historical context, and point of view. Students will explore the themes of war and media. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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The opening paragraph to the novel mainly establishes 
Below is an interview with author Ben Fountain about his novel "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk."  (This annotation contains a video)
Below is an example of a calkskin attache case.  (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted sentence has a tone of  
One theme is emerging from these sentences. What is it? 
A member of the United States Marine Corps. When used by civilians it could be considered derogatory, but it is used often among Marines. The term originates from the "high and tight" haircut that many Marines have, which makes their head look like a jar. The term was used as a title of a 2005 movie about the Iraq war. Below is a video of a trailer for the film.  (This annotation contains a video)


The use of the hurricane is a _________ describing ______________. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?  


How is the idea of religion and death relevant to both the beginning of this chapter and Allen Ginsberg's "Witchia Vortex Sutra"? Provide textual evidence from both pieces to support your answer.  
Below is a link to Allen Ginsberg's "Witchita Vortex Sutra."  (This annotation contains a link)
Allen Ginsberg is one of the famous poets from the Beat generation. The referenced piece, "Wichita Vortex Surtra," is an anti-war poem from 1966. Below is a reading of the poem with music by famous contemporary composer Philip Glass. Follow the link in the next annotation to read the poem in its entirety.  (This annotation contains a video)
Now that you are more familiar with some of the novel's characters, watch the video below about character development. Pay attention to how characters will develop over time.  (This annotation contains a video)
While describing the character, the narrator focuses the greatest amount of detail on Mango's 
Use the Define feature and look up the definition of duress. Which of the following is the best synonym for duress? 
Troy Aikman was the quarterback for Dallas Cowboys from 1989-2000.  (This annotation contains an image)


The use of the word "bombed" in this sentence is an example of  
This sort of paradox was a central idea to Joseph Heller's famous World War II novel "Catch-22." In the novel, the protagonist Yossarian wishes to stop flying. He is told the only way they can ground him is if he is crazy. If he is crazy, however, he would want to continue flying. If he asks to be grounded, he is obviously not crazy. The phrase Catch-22 became notorious with such paradoxical situations. Below is a scene from the film adaption of "Catch-22" that explains the concept further.  (This annotation contains a video)
How is Billy's internal conflict developing at this moment? Provide textual evidence to support your answer.  
The odd structure and spelling of these words are meant to represent Billy's thoughts. They show how he deals with the realities and horrors of war.  
The author is able to build interest by only providing bits of information of what Bravo did in Iraq. The further you the read, the more you will understand.  
The highlighted sentence contributes mostly to the novel's 


Pay attention to the author's use of word choice here when describing the food. Is he trying to evoke a mostly positive or negative tone toward it?  
Which literary device is the author mainly employing in this moment?  
What is Albert's tone in this highlighted sentence? 
Carl von Clausewitz was a German general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege, was unfinished at his death.  (This annotation contains an image)
Walking Tall is a film from 2004 staring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Below is a trailer for the film.  (This annotation contains a video)
What is the purpose of the extended metaphor in this paragraph? 
What is the metaphorical significance of the sand from Iraq still being in Billy's body?  
Thomas Wade "Tom" Landry was an American football player and coach. He is ranked as one of the greatest and most innovative coaches in National Football League history, creating many new formations and methods. (This annotation contains an image)


The phrasing of this part of the sentence is an example of  
Watch the video below about irony. You will need to identify an example of irony soon in this paragraph.  (This annotation contains a video)
Fort Hood is a military base located in Killeen, Texas. On April 2, 2014 a shooting spree occurred at several locations on the base, leaving three people dead and sixteen others wounded. The gunman then died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was later identified as 34-year-old Ivan Lopez, an Iraq War veteran. Below is a video of a news report about the shooting.  (This annotation contains a video)
Notice Billy's dialogue toward Ray. This is enough evidence to clarify his attitude toward his father. He is condescending and sarcastic, which shows his dislike for Ray.  
Use the Define feature and look up the definition of deign. Which of the following is the best antonym for deign?  
The presence of the nephew both juxtaposes the father in this chapter and makes Billy reevaluate his feelings toward the war.  
The moment Billy is having with his nephew and sister contributes mostly to  
What do the highlighted sentences juxtapose? 
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed, while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military. This detail reveals more about Billy's experience in the war.  (This annotation contains an image)
Based on everything that you've read in this chapter so far, what conclusions have you made about Billy's family? Provide one piece of textual evidence to support your answer.  
This moment shows Billy's philosophical side. He is a reflective character who ponders his own existence and purpose.  
Based on the context of the conversation, to whom is Kathryn referring?  
A keloid is the formation of a type of scar.  (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video below of Jon Stewart on the Daily Show interviewing Christopher Hitchens, editor of Vanity Fair, back in 2005 over the war in Iraq.  (This annotation contains a video)
Do you believe the book is making a clear stance on the war in Iraq? Does Kathryn's outspokenness compare to the clip of Jon Stewart? Explain your view.  
This paragraph is mainly about  
OxyContin is a pain medication. It is known for being addictive. Below is a video of one person's overdose of OxyContin.  (This annotation contains a video)
Consider what growth this shows for Billy has a character. What has changed about him or his environment that causes more trepidation toward going back to Iraq?  
The highlighted sentence contains an example of  
Quiz #1 


Norman Oglesby is a fictionalized persona of the real Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.  (This annotation contains an image)
Which sensory phrase contributes to describing the setting? 
Below is a picture of President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.  (This annotation contains an image)
To what specifically does Billy expect the president to feel embarrassed about?  
What is Bill Jones' tone toward Billy? 
Though crustaceans are typically associated with lobsters and crabs, consider how this choice of words is effective in describing the rings.  
What is the dynamic between Billy and Dime? How are they similar and different?  
Jones' gun has been mentioned three times now. Consider whether this will become significant to the development of the novel.  
Watch the video below about theme emerging and see how it relates to the text below.  (This annotation contains a video)
What theme is apparent in these highlighted paragraphs? 
Below is an image of the W Hotel in Dallas.  (This annotation contains an image)
What do the italicized sentences represent? 
Insurgents became a common term during the height of the Iraq war. It stood for the groups rebelling against America's presence in Iraq.  
The phrase "rank nausea" mostly describes Billy's 


Which phrase of Mr. Jones' best captures Billy's view toward him? 
The USO tour stands for United Services Organization. It started in 1941 as a onprofit organization that provides programs, services and live entertainment to United States troops and their families. Bob Hope did numerous USO tours. Below is a video of one performance.  (This annotation contains a video)
What role does the media play in this novel in regards to theme? Provide textual evidence to support your answer.  
A ghostwriter means when another author is a writer who writes books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person. 
Below is a link to an article about the salaries of NFL Cheerleaders. Read the article to understand the expectations of a professional cheerleader.  (This annotation contains a link)
What does Billy's reaction to the question about his religion reveal about him and religion?  
Which of the following is an example of figurative language in this passage? 
Consider what this reveals about Billy. Do you believe he is interested Taison? Is he manipulating her emotions?  


Watch the video below about the literary technique known as "in media res." This is how this chapter begins. (This annotation contains a video)
"[L]abyrinthine world" functions as a ____________ of movie business. 
When dialogue is driving the scene, diction and syntax are important. The writing should reflect the way a person actually speaks. This means that dialogue does not have to adhere to traditional grammar rules. See how the author distinguishes a character's voice by his diction in the dialogue.  
At this moment Bravo is mostly feeling 
During President Bush's first term, Colin Powell was the Secretary of State.  (This annotation contains an image)
What do the ellipses represent in this sentence? 
Use the Define feature and look up the definition of blase. Which word is the best synonym for blase? 
Below is an image of the Silver Star.  (This annotation contains an image)


Through the use of details, what sort of impression does the narrator create about the football players? Provide textual evidence to support your answer.  
Below is an image of a Clydesdale horse.  (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following phrases is more figurative than literal? 
Below is an example of an M4.  (This annotation contains an image)
Dime fills the role of the mentor for Billy. It is obvious that Billy respects and values him. Notice Dime's matter of fact tone toward Billy here. Decide whether this is what is best for Billy at the moment.  
The highlighted sentence contains which kind of poetic device? 
What does this detail reveal about Dime? 
Notice the use of sensory details in this chapter. The author utilizes words that invoke a sense of smell to help the reader imagine the setting.  


"Smitten masses" refers to  
This moment reveals how Billy views himself, and how he distinguishes himself from other people.  
This moment in the suite represents what issue in the book? 
Below is an image of Joan Collins.  (This annotation contains an image)
This literary device is known as a  
Below is an image of Scottie Pippen.  (This annotation contains an image)
Swiftboating is a term that stems from the election between George Bush and John Kerry. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, was a political group of United States veterans and former prisoners of war of the Vietnam War, formed during the 2004 presidential election campaign for the purpose of opposing John Kerry's candidacy for the presidency. The campaign inspired the widely used political pejorative "swiftboating," to describe an unfair or untrue political attack. The group disbanded and ceased operations on May 31, 2008. Below is one ad from the group.  (This annotation contains a video)
After watching the Swift Boat ad, why does the author decide to mention them in this moment in Norm's suite? How does this add to the details about the setting?  
What is Billy mainly thinking about in this moment? 
Below is an image of a Koosh ball.  (This annotation contains an image)
Watch the video below about static and dynamic characters. As you continue to read, decide which characters fit under which category.  (This annotation contains a video)
What is Dime's tone toward Mango? 
The phrase "greed is good" is an indirect reference to Oliver Stone's movie Wall Street. The main character Gordon Gecko, played by Michael Douglas, delivers a speech where he utters these words. Below is a portion of this speech.  (This annotation contains a video)
From what you have read thus far, which of the following is not an accurate character trait of Billy's? 


The description of the Jumbotron is a commentary on what? 
Do you notice how this novel is not just a commentary on war, but a commentary on America and American culture in general? The war is the central idea, but branches off into many other sub-issues.  
Quiz #2  


The details in this paragraph is capturing the _____________ of the setting. 
Below is a video of a 2004 halftime show of the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game. It features Destiny's Child, and is the inspiration for this scene of the book.  (This annotation contains a video)
What is Billy questioning the legitimacy of? 
The occasional lyrics function as way to show the progress of the halftime show, but also carry significance for Billy. Consider how the line "Stop actin' like a boy, stand up and be a man" is important at this moment.  
Billy despises the ___________ atmosphere of the performance. 
Below is an example of the Queen Anne Salute.  (This annotation contains a video)


What theme dominates this highlighted scene? 
Watch the video below about tension in literature and consider how it relates to this moment in novel.  (This annotation contains a video)
At this moment do you believe in Billy and Taison's feelings for each other? Is this a relationship that has a future?  
More specifically, zorn means wrath.  


Below is an example of a Polo ad to help you visualize the comparison.  (This annotation contains an image)
The word razz is meant to describe Bravo's ____________ behavior.  
Which of the following statements is not true about Kathryn? 
Follow the link below to read more about the consequences of going AWOL (Absent Without Leave).  (This annotation contains a link)
Notice how Billy had similar thoughts during the halftime show. This creates a parallel between Billy and his mother. 
The phrase "momaa-logue" is an example of a  


The pain and pleasure represents a/an ____________ for Billy. 
This is a reference to the Tina Turner song "What's Love Got to Do With It." Below is a video of the song.  (This annotation contains a video)
This comment from Mango relates to how civilians have trouble relating and fully understanding the war. As Billy has experienced speaking with various people at the stadium, no one really knows the experience unless they have been there.  
The text messages are coming from  


What is your impression of Albert? Is he a character with depth or is he a stereotypical Hollywood producer in the novel? Provide textual evidence to support your answer.  
In the film industry, an option is a contractual agreement between a potential film producer such as a movie studio, a production company or an individual, and a writer or third party who holds ownership of a screenplay. The agreement details the exclusive rights including the specified time period and financial obligations. The producer has to advance the essential elements, such as financing and/or talent, towards the creation of a film based on the screenplay. 
The use of the phrase "war room" is an example of  
Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this." It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes.  
Is money the main motivation for Dime speaking bluntly to Norm, or is there another motivation? Explain your view.  
The phrase "elephant shitting all over the room," is a play on the phrase "the elephant in the room." This idiom means when there is an obvious issue that most people are ignoring.  
Which of the following are thoughts that Billy is currently having?I. His relationship with FaisonII. The movie deal from Norm.III. His relationship with his father.IV. Returning to Iraq 
By only hearing one end of the conversation, like Billy and Dime we are limited to what we know. It is a way to maintain the reader's interest. The reader wants to know what Norm is saying.  


Which statement best represents the thoughts Billy is having? 
A snuff film is a motion picture genre that depicts the actual murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation. 
Follow the link below to read an opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal against homosexuals in the military.  (This annotation contains a link)
Why does the author include this moment in the book? How does it reflect a portion of America, and how does it tie in to the opinion article over homosexuals in the military?  
The simile Dime uses is to describe 
Weather can be a source of conflict in a story. The characters must suffer, battle, or survive during it. Notice the description of the fans and Bravos facing the sleet and how it is a minor source of conflict. It influences their moods and behaviors.  
The physical actions of Faison and Billy say enough to evoke their feelings for each other. Instead of the author simply telling the reader how the character feels, he demonstrates it by how they embrace and wrap themselves around each other.  
Which of the following words is best associated with furlough? 
Quiz #3