Johnny Got His Gun | Study Guide

Dalton Trumbo

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Course Hero. "Johnny Got His Gun Study Guide." Course Hero. 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 27 Sep. 2023. <>.

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Johnny Got His Gun | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • September 1918

    Joe Bonham is grievously injured while fighting in World War I.

    Book 1, Chapter 1
  • The present

    Joe is lying in a hospital, hovering between dreams and wakefulness; he realizes he is deaf.

    Book 1, Chapter 1
  • A while later

    Joe realizes both his arms and legs have been amputated.

    Book 1, Chapter 5
  • Sometime later

    Joe senses the hole that was his face and realizes he's lost his sense of sight, smell, and taste.

    Book 1, Chapter 5
  • A while later

    Joe's terrifying nightmares of a rat devouring him impel him to strengthen his mind and thoughts.

    Book 1, Chapter 8
  • Sometime later

    Joe ponders the lies told to persuade men to fight and the waste of dying for abstract principles.

    Book 1, Chapter 10
  • A while later

    Joe starts to use his mind and his sense of touch to determine and control time.

    Book 2, Chapter 11
  • After counting 365 days

    Joe knows what day it is and remembers specific war events, such as the fate of the soldier Lazarus.

    Book 2, Chapter 12
  • Christmas Eve

    A new nurse communicates with Joe by touch.

    Book 2, Chapter 17
  • Later that day

    The new nurse realizes Joe is tapping Morse code. She finds a man who understands the code.

    Book 2, Chapter 18
  • Later that day

    The man refuses Joe's request for freedom, saying it is against regulations.

    Book 2, Chapter 20
  • The same day

    Joe taps a message about the "little" guys rejecting war and destroying the warmongers.

    Book 2, Chapter 20

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Book 1, Chapters 1–2 Joe Bonham is feeling very sick. His head feels as if he's "been drinking dynamite." A ringing sound is so loud Joe ca... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 3–4 Joe has been "rising and sinking" in and out of consciousness for months. Yet each time "he came to the surface ... he... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 5–6 In his hospital bed Joe remembers floating in the cool Colorado River on a hot summer day. As he floats he thinks abou... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 7–8 Joe knows he must stop the "smotherings and the sinkings and the risings. ... He has to stop the fear." If he can cont... Read More
Book 1, Chapters 9–10 Chapter 9 recounts Joe's memories of his childhood and youth. Joe, his friend Bill Harper, and Joe's dad are on a camp... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 11–12 Joe is exercising his mind by doing multiplication tables and practicing grammar. He challenges himself to remember th... Read More
Book 2: Chapters 13–14 Joe's calculations are upended one day when the nurse changes his bedclothes two days in a row, not every third day. T... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 15–16 Joe cannot, will not, stop tapping because "he [doesn't] dare think." Thinking might lead him to conclude, reasonably,... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 17–18 Joe awakens from his sedative-induced hallucinations and immediately begins tapping an S.O.S. against his pillow, aski... Read More
Book 2, Chapters 19–20 Joe is stunned by the question the man has traced on his forehead. He thinks long and hard about how to answer the mom... Read More
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