Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: a Story of Hardship
When reading the book unbroken, it is based on about during the time of a World War Two Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. They base it about a boy named Louis Zampernini. When people take a first glance at the book they may think it is just about the struggles one man went through in a lifetime but it is much more than that. You connect with the main character and you begin to relate with the whole book itself. If anything, the novel is not just a bunch of facts and events put together but it also introduces a story that contrasts to Seabiscuit’s adventures. Both Seabiscuit and myself would reflect and relate to some of the struggles that the author has included. When reading this biography the reader is able to understand the way that Unbroken shows the hardship, positive emotions that seem to prevail from the story.
Laura Hillenbrand has repeated in various occasions that Louis Zamperini not only has a defiant personality but is also a survivor. The author introduces this theme from the very beginning when she describes Louie’s tumultuous personality. “Even as a small child, one who, at two years old, when he ″was down with pneumonia, he climbed out his bedroom window, descended one story, and went on a naked tear down the street with a policeman chasing him and a crowd watching in amazement″ (Hillenbrand, 2010, p. 25). As Louis grows older and more conscientious of how the world truly is he becomes more of a hooligan. First, he noticed that Americans that he has been living with do not want to accept his Italian family inside their communities. Then, when he gets put in the juvenile delinquencies for the things he committed it is also because of his ethnic background and social status which was a major factor as to why he got put into juvenile detention. Later, as he starts to pick up more fights with other boys in his town that would lead to him getting money.
She states that, ″confident that he was clever, resourceful, and bold enough to escape any predicament, he was almost incapable of discouragement. When history carried him into war, this resilient optimism would define him″ (Hillenbrand, 2010, p. 29). Up until he was ten years old, Louie’s appearance had made him a major target for bullies who took advantage of how he wouldn’t defend himself. However, all that changed one day when his father who once was a boxer, taught the boy to fight back with technique. He soon caught on and become well trained to defend himself. At a young age his determination to grow from a boy who used to try to buy bullies with lunch then turning into a self determined and a wild tempered one had frustrated Louie’s parents. His mother knew him like the back of her hand and was trying to change her boy back from being tremendous pain in her butt. This is the type of behavior that will give people an impression of a troubled boy that his parents had failed in getting their son an education who would end up a felon in the end.
Hillenbrand is careful in how she directs the perception upon Louie. She creates an image for the readers, of a boy who feels that his only way to survive in a world that is growing around him is for him to exceed the limits of being behaved and rebel. Louie’s rebellion leads one to believe that he will become a menace to society. He acts out of an evil intention but still resembles himself to thirteen years old Huckleberry Finn who has a hard time adjusting into society. Although Louie is a boy one would sympathize with, his temper would reveal something that is special about him and awaits to be discovered.
When attempting to dissect the thematic order of Laura Hillenbrand’s novel, it is just as easy to do so sporadically as there are links that lead one to discover defiance and survival in each episode, but not necessarily in order. This is why Louie’s childhood can be directly related to his time in the war. Resilience defines not just the title of the novel but the man behind the story as well. Louie’s resilience resided in how he was able to attach himself to a silver lining whenever he faced difficult situations. As a growing teenager, he found that running kept him engaged and enthusiastic. When held in captivity by the Japanese following his plane crash, he relied on his faith for survival. Louie’s transformation did not necessarily come as the result of him channeling his energy into running. Since from the beginning was given that his first year on the track brought more disappointment than success.
However, the recovery process is said to take one two steps back while taken a step further. In Louie’s case, it was all about stepping forward after that first year on the track. It was the same determination that had motivated him to stand up for himself as a child that urged him to exercise his running abilities further. That, and his brother’s support. Hillenbrand combines this thematic blend of defiance, survival, and determination in a powerful outset that cannot prevent one from drawing some similarities upon her own life and ability to control her medical condition so as to defy its implications herself.
It is a common expectation that biographies, would reveal intriguing and exceptional stories, because of their fascinating insights, descriptive personalities, and experience. When these elements are found altogether, one can only surrender to the captivating cobweb of life lines. As the author Hillenbrand captures Louie and his companions afloat at sea, survival is once again pictured as a resulting process of how a boy is faced into defying natural law and death. And we can once again catch a slight glimpse into Louie’s experiences and demeanor as a child for the readers to understand how life was like growing up the era of the Great Depression could change him. Where in a time when many people had nothing to rely one, many families were disbanded and food was running low, also many had went down with the tide that overcame them or thrived on despite the hardship. However, from this moment on, we are not just witnesses of Louie’s perseverance but also a witness of his companions that are afloat with him, and later on soon to be prisoners at the same camp.
Hillenbrand then draws the conversations on that ″were healing, pulling them out of their suffering and setting the future before them as a concrete thing.″ (2010, p. 210). The survival, Hillenbrand indirectly refers to, depended on the men’s ability to reassure each other that they will pull through, despite the hardship. What Hillenbrand succeeds to show is being able for her to extend the theme of survival from Louie to the other prisoners around him. For an example, she pulls away for certain amounts of time from a biographical setting to focus on a general situation during World War Two, which is how prisoners in POW camps dealt with their captivity and how some lost the fight while others were fortunate enough to resist.
CFIDS Association of America, an association with an informative and active focus on the chronic fatigue syndrome featured in one of its chronicles an article in regards to Seabiscuit. Hillenbrand revealed with the occasion how the book reflects some of her own struggles. She stated: ″This is a story of hardship. For me and everyone else with CFIDS, it’s the story of your life, to get up and gird yourself for each and every day.″ (Giuliucci, 2001, ″A matter of dignity″) As someone who spent seven years working on yet another novel that further challenged her health abilities, it is no wonder Hillenbrand found herself attracted to Louis Zamperini’s life. After suffering tremendous hardship as a POW prisoner during the second war, Louie persevered and battled with aftermath haunting that is today commonly recognized as post traumatic stress disorder.
There are many literary accounts that reveal how soldiers and military operators dealt and perhaps some continue to do so with recurring thoughts following the war. For the majority, what Hillenbrand referred to as having to gird for each and every day is a fact and a necessity, as Louie also experienced. This is why the book offers a translucent tribute to one man’s defiance and determination to survive. This is a story that not just war heroes and those less famous soldiers can relate to but indeed one that dwells on the human’s spirit strength which, when all effort is put for survival, beams radiance and motivates.
While certain parts in the book are more difficult to digest like the description of POW camps and others may test one’s patience due to detailed expository similar to recounting small pieces of data in regards to Louis Zamperini’s running career, the book is sure not to betray the readers with unrealistic descriptions. Where the lack of insights prevails, Hillenbrand makes up for in powerful contrast of literary characteristics. And her words about the story condense its topic: ″The thing that this story offers is an example of how far a resilient will carry you…and that’s the thing that is resonating with people – they feel strengthened by knowing this story.″
‘unbroken’ by Laura Hillenbrand – a Life Story of an Olympic Athlete
‘Unbroken’ written by Laura Hillenbrand is a story about Louis Silvie Zamperini. Throughout his life as a young boy, an Olympic athlete, a soldier, a POW prisoner and the aftermath that had effects on his life. Born in 1917 being a son of Italian immigrants his life was a rocky start from being a teenager stealing booze and smoking to running track and being at Olympic athlete. Pushing through his limits and defying defeat he worked hard to be the best. And when it came to the Olympics even Adolf Hitler noticed him with saying the best finish and shaked his hand and met him. After the Olympics stopped because the war he went and joined the Air Force. While Louis was in the Air Force he got nicknames of being called Lucky Louie for cheating death.
Then on May 27, 1943 Louis went on a search and rescue mission and got the last resort plane called the green hornet wish they reluctantly did not want to get on but they told them they had to and it passed inspection. But why are flying over the ocean two of the engines failed and they landed in the water and out of the 11 men 3 men survived. After a long time drifting away in the ocean on a raft they finally get rescued by the Japanese and they get put on an island called death island but about 43 days later they go into a POW camp in Japan where they met the bird. His life is a POW was hell being tortured on the daily being malnourished losing about 40 to 50 pounds and the bird that was fixated on Louis. The bird was even transferred to another POW camp and Louis was transferred to the same camp as him for his life is a POW was a living hell.
After the war leaving the POW camp Louis found the love of his life Cynthia Applewhite and proposed 10 days after meeting her. After getting married they had a little girl but even then Louis couldn’t shake his demons screaming at night from his dreams being hunted by the bird even one night strangling his own wife and his dream. His wife filed for divorce until she turned Christian and because of this stop the divorce and Louis attended the Billy Graham preaching and his life changed and he became Christian. Then in 1950 you return back to Japan to forgive all the prison guards that tortured him but he could not meet with the bird probably because the bird felt terrible for his actions and some guards even turn to Christ as their Savior.
Louise life was a very passionate one driven by never giving up or giving in he even has his own catch phrase that his brother told him if you can make it you can take it and he followed those words throughout his life and with his heart. There are three powerful messages in this book and the first being perseverance to push through your limits, the second one resilience to not be broken and does still have a good heart, and the third forgiveness to forgive those who have done wrong to you even if they put you through hell. Throw the beginning of his life and even through the POW camp you can see the perseverance as he broke his own record in the Olympics as he stop drinking and started to run and as he always looked for towards the future in the POW camp even when he got out even when his life was still a wreck he wanted to make it right but didn’t know how but he wanted to make things right.
Throughout the story you can see Louise resilience to not give them to not be broken to always keep fighting when the bird tortured him day after day night after night he never came in he always thought about strangling the bird and his dreams but he never did it he would never give the satisfaction of letting the enemy see him broken that is really powerful message even throughout hell he never came in he always worked never stopped always pushing through no matter what. Even throughout hell he found a savior and he began the road of forgiveness going to Japan and forgiving all of his captors to forgive what they’ve done to him and even forgiving himself for being lost in the madness. Louis had a passion spark in his soul that made all these three messages work. From a man that went from nothing to something throughout his passionate life is an inspiration for all the life of stealing to a life of valor and honor and the quote “ if you can take it you can make it” words to live on.
Throat the book it teaches these life lessons and surprisingly a chronicle logical order and one of the biggest lessons was to never give up to always look for a brighter side. And with Louise life in this book it has inspired millions of people throughout the years to push past their limits and to never give up. Also while researching whenever the bird got interviewed not once did he say he’s sorry the only thing he said was that what driven him to do those things was his passion at the time never once said anything about being sorry and died two years ago in 2016. Also on a sidenote my favorite part in the book is win in the POW camps they were talking about the slaves that word sabotage supplies and sabotaged a railway system so whenever a train to win on it it toppled and flipped over and they made a black market I thought that was a great little detail to add to show how they survived throw the POW camp.
“Almost Incapable of Discouragement”: The Purpose of Unbroken
There is never a moment in life when adversity is absent, but the true test of resilience presents itself in times when the adversity seems completely grim and utterly unrelenting. In Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand describes the life experiences of Louis Zamperini, a formerly successful Olympic athlete, who, after surviving a plane crash, is put through the very worst of World War II. Using several interviews between herself and Zamperini as a reference, Hillenbrand explains the global conflict through the eyes of Zamperini, as well as the mental war that consumes him and his family in the months following the war. Hillenbrand recounts Zamperini’s instances of mental toughness with powerful phrasing to compose an emotionally appealing story that demonstrates how the human spirit’s resilient optimism pushes the body through pain and adversity.
Hillenbrand places a heavy emphasis on resilience from the very beginning, often times with intent to trigger an emotional response from the reader. She describes a situation early on in Zamperini’s childhood where he deliberately held his head underwater to increase his total lung capacity, usually for extended periods at a time (Hillenbrand 12). By describing such a moment in Zamperini’s life that required resilience to completely withstand, Hillenbrand convinces the reader that he was pushed through a moment of adversity using that quality, even from such an early age.
After a nearly fatal plane crash, Zamperini in addition to two of his companions are left stranded in the middle of an ocean. By bringing up Zamperini’s ability to maintain a hopeful attitude that could “displace [his] fear” and motivate him to survive (Hillenbrand 212), Hillenbrand demonstrates to the reader that Zamperini’s resilient attitude guided him through a completely dire situation. After his capture by the Japanese, he was sent to multiple prison camps, where the guards sought to dehumanize and destroy each of their captives (Hillenbrand 258). By showing the literal hell that Zamperini was put through, Hillenbrand makes the reader sympathize for the character and acknowledge the importance of remaining resilient through times of extreme adversity. David Margolick of the New York Times adds that while Hillenbrand’s portrayal of Zamperini’s resiliently optimistic attitude seemed mostly accurate and believable, her good friendship with Zamperini, and her tendency to focus heavily on Zamperini’s moments of resilience may have made for a more exaggerated story (Margolick). However, by focusing more on these instances of resilience, Hillenbrand elicits a more powerful response from the reader.
In addition to her emotional appeals, Hillenbrand’s word choice when referring to Zamperini’s resilience helps convince the reader of its overall importance. By using phrases such as “renewal of vigor” to describe the feeling Zamperini received when he made a successful effort in survival (Hillenbrand 211), and words like “paralyzed” to describe the actions of those who lacked mental resilience (Hillenbrand 212), Hillenbrand emphasizes how Zamperini was able to remain optimistic while others simply succumbed to their fears. When describing the atmosphere of the Japanese prison camps, Hillenbrand maintains a cold and dark tone, using negative and dreary words such as “deprived” and “dehumanizing” to give the reader an idea of just how terrible those camps were (Hillenbrand 260), in addition to how difficult it must have been to remain optimistic. Hillenbrand also frequently uses the word “dignity” during the sections of the novel devoted to the Japanese prisoner-of-war camps (Hillenbrand 430), employing its use when the characters were questioning whether or not that quality had been stripped from them, and when they believed they had regained it. Although dignity is not directly related to resilience, it is much easier to lose mental strength if dignity has been taken away
Hillenbrand created an emotionally invigorating story that emphasizes the importance of remaining resilient in life by demonstrating Zamperini’s own moments of mental toughness, even when hope seemed to be dwindling. She appeals to the reader emotionally by giving detailed descriptions of the situations in which resilience, both mental and physical, were crucial factors for Zamperini’s survival, and her word choice clearly shows his ability to remain resiliently optimistic in the face of adversity. Resilience is a quality that takes time to develop, but can ultimately dictate survival.
Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. New York: Random House, 2010. print.
Margolick, David. “Zamperini’s War.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Nov. 2010. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.