Unbroken, By Laura Hillenbrand: Character Analysis

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American author and political activist Helen Keller once said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” In Laura Hillenbrand’s nonfiction book Unbroken, the motivated Louie Zamperini exemplifies Keller’s words through his shocking journey unlike any other. Zamperini’s childhood delinquency, distance Olympic running career, and survival World War II story intrigued Hillenbrand to share this compelling story and determination with the world. Early in Louie Zamperini’s life he, spent most of his time causing trouble, whether stealing or fighting in school. Later, he enjoyed telling stories of his rebellious childhood:…show more content…
The bullies eventually quit tormenting Louie after he began running, and with encouragement and training from his brother Pete, Louie became a phenomenal runner. In college, he began training for the Olympics. In one race, he faced another struggle when his competition tried to drag him down: “Bleeding and in pain, Louie was trapped. For a lap and a half, he ran in the cluster of men, unable to get free, … He burst through, blew past the race leader, and with his shoe torn open, shins streaming blood, and chest aching, won easily” (44) In this excerpt it is clear how determined Louie is to win, no matter the number of people trying to stop him, physically or mentally. However there was one thing that could stop him. Louie had been drafted to the air force, where his real journey begins. He found himself trapped in the ocean with two other crew members that survived. Although the chances of him finding his way home were slim to none, Louie’s family seems to believe in him, especially Pete as he says: “‘If he has a toothbrush and a pocket knife and he hits land, he’ll make it.’” (145) Pete knew Louie wouldn’t give up, and would work with what he has. Louie’s determination and hope continues to push on as he is stuck on the raft with his other two crewmembers. Along with Louie, Phil is still hopeful as well. However, it is not the same for Mac, their other crewmember: “Louie and Phil’s hope…show more content…
He takes another chance on his running career, and begins training: “But without extending himself, he began clocking miles in 4:18, just two seconds slower than the winning time of the Zamperini Invitational that he’d seen in March. He was coming all the way back.” (359) Here you can see that even after war, Louie slowly starts to become himself again. However, it’s not easy as a war veteran to return to normal life. Louie found his past haunting him in his dreams like a ghost. He turned to alcohol, making the people around him concerned. After many struggles as a drunk, his determination returns through God after a compelling speech from an evangelist: “When they entered the apartment, Louie went straight to his cache of liquor. It was the time of night when the need usually took hold of him, but for the first time in years, Louie had no desire to drink. He carried the bottles to the kitchen sink, opened them, and poured their contents into the drain. Then he hurried to the apartment, gathering packs of cigarettes, a secret stash of girlie magazines, everything that was part of his ruined years. He heaved it all down the trash chute” (383). This excerpt shows how Louie’s persistence always returns, even in his darkest
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