Characteristics of Hero in the Characters of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken
A hero has qualities such as being quick-witted, determined, daring and inspirational. Louis Zamperini has been in horrible and traumatic situations that have shaped him into a hero. Mutsuhiro Watanabe (an officer at Ofuna) was one of Louie’s worst enemies. Wantanabe’s treatment of Louie was one of his greatest challenges to overcome. He abused, harassed, and tortured Louie to no end. “Louis’s arms began to waver and go numb. His body shook. The beam tipped. Less and less blood was reaching his head, and he began to feel confused, his thoughts gauzy, the camp swimming around him. He felt his consciousness slipping, until all he knew was a single thought: He cannot break me” (Hillenbrand, 301). Due to his strong will and his daringness to prove Wantanabe wrong, he held the beam above his head for thirty-seven minutes.
Louie was forced to hold a six-foot-long wooden beam over his head as a punishment from Wantabe and even as he lost strength, his only thought was not to let Wantanabe win. Louie was incredibly determined and refused to let Watanabe diminish him and would do anything to prove him wrong. Fed up with their treatment at Ofuna, Louie and his friends, Tinker and Harris decided to escape. A major part of the plan was to find out who was winning the war. Louie demonstrated cleverness, and quick thinking by figuring out a way to communicate with a new prisoner of war. “ The captive was standing naked, holding a pan of water and washing as the guard stood by. Then the guard stepped away to light a cigarette. “ If we’ve taken Saipan drop the pan,” Louie whispered. The pan clattered to the floor.” ( Hillenbrand, 229) Thanks to Louie’s quick thinking, he was able to extract crucial information in a short period of time. After the war, Louie started a Nonprofit Victory Boys Camp. “ Louie was happily walking the world, telling his story to rapt audiences in everything from grade school to stadiums.” ( Hillenbrand 390) He dedicated the rest of his life as an inspirational speaker and forgave those who hurt him.
Like Louie, Francis McNamara also exhibits the characteristics of a hero. Mac was altruistic, although not in the beginning of their journey on the raft. “The realization that Mac had eaten all the chocolate rolled hard over Louie. In the brief time that Louie had known Mac, the tail gunner had struck him as a decent, friendly guy, although a bit of a reveler, confident to the point of flippancy. The crash had undone him…a rescue search was surely under way” ( Hillenbrand, 138). Mac experienced a panic attack and ate all their chocolate that was supposed to last them until they were found. After this, he began to slip into a “dreamy state” of mind weaving in and out of consciousness. Their dire situation put a heavy strain on their mental health. Phil and Louie kept themselves distracted while Mac slipped into his own thoughts.“ As Louie and Phil grilled each other, Mac usually sat in silence. Sometimes he’d ask Louie to describe a recipe, and occasionally he would interject, but getting him to fully participate was rough going. He shared a few memories, and though the other two encouraged him, he couldn’t imagine a future.
To him, it seemed, the world was too far gone.” (Hillenbrand, 154) Although all of them were starting to get depressed, Mac had severe depression and no longer found reasons to live. “Though all three men faced the same hardships, their differing perceptions of it appeared to be shaping their fates. Louie and Phil’s hope displaced their fear and inspired them to work towards their survival, and each success renewed their physical and emotional vigor. Mac’s resignation seemed to paralyze him, and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped. Though he did the least, as the days passed, it was he who faded the most.” (Hillenbrand, 155) Mac’s mental health situation was dire but when it really mattered the most, he saved Louie Zamperini’s life. This is one of the main reasons Mac is considered a hero. He did not stop to think of his own weakness and injuries when he sprung into action.“ Louie was recoiling when he saw an oar swing past, sending the animal backward into the ocean. To his surprise, it wasn’t Phil who had saved him. It was Mac. Louie had no time to thank him…Louie and Mac sat side by side, clubbing each shark as it lunged at them…Mac had reclaimed himself.” (Hillenbrand, 168) Mac seemed to snap out of his daze and come to life when Louie’s was at stake. Mac did not think twice about his own safety and weakness when he knew his friend needed him. When Mac succumbed to their situation, the boys showed their gratitude by praying for him. They cared so much for him that even Louie prayed for the fallen to rest in peace.
A hero has characteristics that make them stand out. Both Louie Zamperini and Francis McNamara are heroes but they have a set of different characteristics. Louie is quick-witted, determined, daring, and inspirational. Mac had a rough start but ended up being brave and quick to act. What made them heroes were the situations and hardships they had to overcome. Louie had to overcome Mutsuhiro Watanabe and alcoholism and Mac had to overcome severe depression and illness. Mac overcame his obstacles of fighting himself and jumped into action when Louie needed him the most. Louie overcame his obstacles by forgiving the people who wronged him and started a foundation to inspire young boys that wanted to change.
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.
What I Have Learned from the Book “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand
I decided to take AP World History because I believed it would be a way to challenge me. I wanted to be challenged because none of the History classes I have taken so far have been very difficult. I think this course could be one that brings a new more difficult aspect, that also brings new knowledge at a higher level than other classes. I chose the book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand because my dad had read it before and he recommended it to me saying it was a great book. I had also previously seen the movie which gave me a basic understanding of what happened. I also typically love to read books about World War II usually Non-Fiction or Realistic Fiction. I knew this book was also about a plane crashing down into the ocean and the struggle to keep the survivors of the crash alive. Because of that, I expected to love this book as well.
Louie Zamperini grew up in Torrance, California, where he is known for being the town trickster and thief. Eventually, his brother convinces him to stop with all the pranks and thievery and to try track, where he blows past the competition for years eventually making the Olympic team. After performing astoundingly in the 1936 Olympics by being the first American to cross the finish line, Louie joined the Air Corps in WWII. While on a rescue mission in, Louie’s plane crashed. Only Louie and one other man Phil Phillips survived the crash and were at sea for 47 days with little food and water. They were eventually found by a Japanese ship and captured. Where they were soon after sent to POW camps in Japan. While in Japan Louie endured immense torture from his captors. Louie finally was freed when Japan surrendered to the United States after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Louie returned to America, where he married Cynthia Applewhite and struggled with a drinking problem and severe PTSD. Eventually, Louie became a Christian and began to switch his life around and recover from his psychological wounds, which included him forgiving his abusers in Japan.
When I was reading this book I didn’t expect to learn much, because I had already known so much about WWII. But, I was wrong I learned lots that I hadn’t previously known, such as I had no idea about the conditions that the American POWs in Japan went through. I learned how they were abused for the slightest infraction and for making no infractions at all the guards would abuse the POWs just for the fun of it. The guards tried to erase the dignity of the soldiers. I also learned that it was a few days after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that the guards at the camps told the POWs that they were free. The guards seemed like they were just going to kill all of the prisoners instead of saying they were free and then they all just ran away for fear that the POWs would retaliate for the abuse they had undergone. A third thing I learned was that there were several guards and civilians in Japan who were willing to put themselves in danger to help the American POWs. That is very surprising because it always seemed from other books and articles that every person in Japan was completely loyal and would die for their country.
Most if not all of the story Unbroken is historically accurate. But, an article from the New York Post three doctors in a roundtable discussion discussed whether or not some of the things said to have happened to Louie were possible (Callahan 1). One such thing discussed was the possibility of going six to seven days in the scorching heat with no water and doctors said it would be hard but possible. Another event discussed is when the plane crashed and the author says Louie was able to propel himself back to the surface with canisters of Carbon Dioxide. The doctors say is very unlikely and sounds too much like it is from a spy movie. The third question they discussed was whether or not an already frail man could have sustained over 100 punches from other men and then days later held up a six-foot wooden beam above his head for 37 minutes. They said this claim is the most far-fetched being that he was suffering from multiple severe illnesses and it would have been hard to know how many times he was punched and he probably wouldn’t have known how long he was holding up the beam. The author may have over exaggerated slightly over what happened to Louie because she really wanted to make it seem like he was almost a superhero and wouldn’t give up no matter the abuse he received. Another reason is so she could make it sound more interesting and daring so as to keep a reader engaged. The author most likely chose to write this book to shed light on the awful conditions American POWs faced in Japanese camps. This is because all though books had been written about these things before none of them had become as popular, and not many people had heard about the story of Louie Zamperini before the creation of this book.
The book Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a wonderful nonfiction book that shows the incredible hardships American POWs went through in Japan. I loved the book and couldn’t put it down because you are engaged from the very beginning and during all of his races you are cheering him on even though they occurred over 70 years ago. The author gives you connections with these real people that make you see how bad there suffering was and how little most of the Japanese cared for them. But, the author also shows how some Japanese risked their lives to help people they didn’t know. I think this book is wonderful because it shows how a beloved man can be forgotten so easily by his country and he can come back and prove them all wrong. It is almost a form of a comeback story because Louie comes back from being treated like an animal to a sad life but is then able to turn it around and forgive his tormentors.
“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.