Surviving Hell By Thorsness: Analysis

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Imagine being captured and trapped in a camp, in North Vietnam, for six years filled with days of brutal torture and agonizing boredom. In Leo Thorsness’s novel, Surviving Hell, Thorsness and his fellow soldiers found a way to not only survive, but to thrive. Through numerous events and experiences, the soldiers survived by utilizing any means possible, both mentally and physically. It was their hope and optimism that kept them going. This can be seen when Thorsness plots his walk home. “In nearly six years in prison, not a day went by when I didn’t think about hope for freedom,” (Thorsness 55). Thorsness’s hope for freedom kept his mind and body active. He was so reluctant to find a way back home, that he decided to make a tape measure out of filmstrip, homemade bamboo needle, and thread that he pulled from his blanket. After measuring the cell block, and…show more content…
After a couple of weeks, Mike had used this slimy rag to make an American flag. Once he was finished, he went outside and raised the flag. “As we turned Mike’s way, we automatically came to attention and saluted. Some of us began to cry.” (Thorsness 84). Mike’s flag represented freedom and reminded the soldiers what they were fighting for. Unfortunately the guards disapproved, took the flag, and tortured Mike. That did not stop Mike. “He recovered in a couple of weeks and immediately started looking for another piece of cloth.” (Thorsness 109). That is how much the flag had meant to Mike, regardless of the consequences. These “stories” and symbols were just some of the many ways that kept Thorsness and the other soldiers alive. It was their hope, courage, and optimism that kept them from losing it both mentally and physically. These events helped Thorsness stay alive long enough to regain his freedom. The men in the prisons exemplified what it means to never give up no matter how tough things may
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