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Transcript of Unbroken
Written by: Laura Hillenbrand
Report by: Steven Bruening
1. Louis (Louie) Zamperini: A former US Olympic athlete, drafted into the Army Air Corps during WWII. His plane later crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, and after surviving 47 days, he was "rescued" by the Japanese.
2. Phil (Russell Allen Phillips): Louie's pilot, who also survived the crash and POW camps.
3. The Bird (Mutsuhiro Watanabe): A sadistic Japanese prisoner guard. Rank was Corporal.
General Book Information:
Lexile Level: None, estimated to be above 990 (Source: http://www.lexile.com/book/details/9780449005613/)
ATOS Level: 7.7 (Source: http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=144668&l=EN&slid=438481729)
AR Points: 24 (Source: http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=144668&l=EN&slid=438481729)
The initial conflict of "Unbroken" was character versus nature. Louie was lost at sea after his bomber crashed during World War II. He was trapped in a small raft, with little provisions for forty-seven days. However, once he was rescued/captured by the Japanese, the conflict became character versus society, or Louie versus the Japanese. Louie was in a constant struggle to survive in the Japanese POW camps, where he was tortured and starved for more than two years. Once Louie was rescued, his conflict became character versus self. Louie had started drinking heavily, having nightmares/flashbacks, and was losing control over his life.
Setting of "Unbroken":
The "Unbroken" settings included the Pacific Ocean, near Japanese shores, and various POW camps throughout Japan during World War II. The main character was a former Olympic athlete and officer in the Army Air Corps, Louis (Louie) Zamperini. Louie’s B-24 bomber had crashed into the ocean due to engine failure in 1943. After 47 days at sea, Louie was rescued and sent to his first of many prison camps within Japan. While in these camps, Louie and the other prisoners were tortured, starved, and sometimes killed. The author’s tone was depressed and anxious, as Louie was in constant pain and his life was always at risk. The mood of the camps was also depressed, though it sometimes became optimistic and even hopeful. The mood was depressed while the prisoners were being worked to death, beaten, and tortured. “The vibrant, generous body that he had trained with such vigilance had shrunken until only the bones remained, draped in yellow skin, crawling with parasites.” He thought, “All I see is a dead body breathing” (page 175). However, the mood became optimistic when the prisoners sabotaged Japanese equipment and hopeful when the Americans started to win the war.
Protagonist and Antagonist:
The protagonist in "Unbroken" was Louie. He was an Olympic athlete who fought for his country, and eventually for his own survival. The antagonist of WWII was Japan. In "Unbroken", the antagonist was not only Japan but more specifically, Corporal Watanabe (“the Bird”). Japan was fighting to destroy the United States, and the Bird was fighting to destroy/torture Louie and other POW’s. Louie felt that the Japanese were evil, and that they had no real cause for starting the war. However, the Japanese felt that they had a just cause for both starting the war, and for torturing POW’s. Japan was economically struggling due to a lack of resources, so it attacked the United States in an effort to gain more land. Japanese soldiers tortured the POWs because they felt that it was extremely dishonorable to allow yourself to be captured, and they thought of POWs as almost inhuman. “Japan’s military–dominated government had long been preparing for its quest. Over decades, it had crafted a muscular, technologically sophisticated army and navy, and through a military-run school system that relentlessly and violently drilled children on the nation’s imperial destiny, it had shaped its people for war. Finally, through intense indoctrination, beatings and desensitization, its army cultivated and celebrated extreme brutality in its soldiers” (page 43).
The rising action of "Unbroken" started with Louie’s childhood, and continued through his Olympic career, his time in the military, his survival at sea, and his withstanding the torture at the POW camps, until he met the Bird. The Bird was a mentally unstable and brutal Japanese guard who was fixated on Louie. “In the words of Commander Maher, who’d been transferred from Ofuna to become the ranking Omori POW, Watanabe was ‘the most vicious guard in any prison camp on the main island of Japan’” (page 237). These events combine to form the rising action because they develop the characters in preparation for the climax.
The climax of the story was the Bird’s obsession with Louie. “From the moment that Watanabe locked eyes with Louie Zamperini, an officer, a famous Olympian, and a man for whom defiance was second nature, no man obsessed him more” (page 238). This obsession lead the Bird to torture and attempt to break Louie. After Louie met the Bird, the falling action began – Louie was rescued, and eventually found God.
The falling action of "Unbroken" contains all of the events after Louie’s time with the Bird. The first main event of the falling action was Louie’s rescue. After returning to America Louie was initially celebrated in parades, but as he struggled with the mental scars of war, he started drinking heavily until he lost everything. “No one could reach Louie, because he had never really come home. In prison camp, he’d been beaten into dehumanized obedience to a world order in which the Bird was absolute sovereign, and it was under this world order that he still lived” (page 365). Then, he found God and began the process of recovery after he started to attend sermons by the Reverend Billy Graham.
There were several important themes demonstrated throughout "Unbroken". The most prominent theme of "Unbroken" was that one should never give up. Louie never stopped working hard to reach his goal of competing in the Berlin Olympics. He never gave up during his time lost at sea or while he was being tortured in the Japanese prison camps. For instance, while the Bird was tormenting Louie with an impossible task, Louie continued to say to himself that “he cannot break me” (page 296). It was through his determination to never give up that Louie was able to survive the prison camps. Finally, while battling mental illness and alcoholism, Louie was able to push-through and survive because he never gave up.
Relation to My Life:
Louie, of "Unbroken", has a few similarities to my life. For instance, Louie enjoyed running, and always put in his best effort towards it. As for myself, I enjoy running as well, and though I am not nearly as proficient as Louie, I still work to the best of my abilities. By applying what Louie has taught me in running, I have learned to never give up, and to work hard, for it will pay off in the end.
Development of the Protagonist
While this is an interesting book, it is not for everyone. It contains both sad and graphic descriptions. However, it contains an amazing, yet true, plot line. It makes the reader think about their life, and how lucky they are to just be alive. Because it contains intense descriptions, I would put the minimum age at 13. There is no maximum age for this story, as it is an interesting and amazing piece of literature. However, those who dislike depressing or frightening novels would probably not find this an enjoyable read. Still, this novel was incredibly well-written and facinating, as described by the Washington Post, “A meticulous, soaring and beautifully written account of an extraordinary life.” In addition, this would be a fantastic book for a group to read and discuss. This novel contains many amazing accounts, and provides readers with several themes and ideas to discuss.
Aeriel image of ocean (Steven Bruening)
A Japanese POW camp
An image inside of a jungle, similiar to what Louie would have been in.
Louie with his family after he returned home
Louie after a race
Louie's only provided food on the raft were a few chocolate bars
The resolution of the story was when Louie found God. After months of heavy drinking, fights with his wife, and mental breakdowns, Louie attended a sermon by the Reverend Billy Graham. Here, he decided to turn his life around, and devote himself to God. “Resting in the shade and the stillness, Louie felt profound peace. When he thought of his history, what resonated with him now was not all that he had suffered but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him. He was not the worthless, broken, forsaken man that the Bird had striven to make of him. In a single, silent moment, his rage, his fear, his humiliation and helplessness, had fallen away. That morning, he believed, he was a new creation” (page 376). After this, he started to live well again with his wife and daughter. He became a great motivational speaker.
A model airplane similiar to a B-24
The protagonist, Louis (Louie) Zamperini made many changes throughout "Unbroken". At first, he was a mischievous boy. For instance, “At five, he started smoking, picking up discarded cigarette butts while walking to kindergarten. He began drinking at night when he was eight” (page 5-6). He would steal from his neighbors, and constantly break into homes and buildings. Eventually, he found his calling on the track. He started running, and it turned his life around. He left behind his old mischievous ways for a good life with a promising future. However, after the Berlin Olympics, Louie was drafted into the Army Air Corps. He fought bravely, and eventually ranked up to an Officer pay-grade. While he was serving in the Air Corps, his plane crash landed in the Atlantic. He survived with little provisions for over a month, and was then captured by the Japanese. They tortured him at several POW camps. He barely held on, losing friends along the way. Two years following his plane crash, Japan surrendered to the United States. He was rescued, and brought home. At first, he was stable, and seemed to be doing fine. However, he started drinking, and lost control over his life. “The alcohol had brought him a pleasant numbness” (page 338). After months of alcohol abuse, fighting and instability, he eventually started his recovery, after attending a sermon by the Reverend Billy Graham.
A modern airplane cockpit, with similiar controls to what Louie's B-24 had
Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken. New York: Random House. Print.
“A Timeline of Louis Zamperini’s Journey.” Green Mellen Media. 26 April 2011. Web. 11 November 2013.