This section of Unbroken focused mainly on Louie’s adjustment to home life after the war, and the hunt to find the many guards who had mistreated prisoners at the POW camps in Japan. The Bird had fled Japan and changed his name, taking a new identity and resolving to disappear forever. Louie seemed to be adjusting well, but was struggling more than anyone else knew. He began to suffer bouts of suffocating anxiety, and started using alcohol to numb the rush of feelings that came every time he was asked to talk about his experience. “When the harsh push of memory ran through Louie, reaching for his flask became as easy as slapping a swatter on a fly” (Hillenbrand, 346). All Louie wanted to do was forget about it, and drinking took him to a world without the war.
Later in the chapter, Louie met a girl, Cynthia Applewhite. He told his sister Sylvia that from the second he saw Cynthia, he knew he had to marry her. Louie asked her to marry him after they had known each other for less than two weeks. Cynthia’s parents didn’t approve, but this didn’t stop Louie and Cynthia from getting married. Right after they got married, Louie stopped drinking, but when he started again, his problem became much worse, especially since Louie was unable to escape from his problems by running anymore.
Above is a picture of Louie and Cynthia Applewhite smiling on their wedding day.
It’s crazy how the lives of Louie and the other men kept at POW camps have been completely changed forever. There’s no way to completely and fully recover from something like what these men suffered through. No matter what they do, those memories will stay with them forever.
I can relate to this chapter because right now in psychology class, I’m learning about PTSD and other disorders and therapies that can help to treat them. This made me more able to better understand what Louie and the other men are suffering from. I know how serious of a disorder PTSD is and how hard to recover from it can be. It is something that must be treated over time and can cause people to act in ways they never would have before the event that caused it. Before the war, Louie most likely would not have fallen to drinking to solve his problems and his life would have gone in a completely different direction.
I think that the fact that Louie was unable to run made things a lot more difficult for him. Running used to be his escape from his problems and whatever else in the world that was bothering him. The fact that he didn’t have this now only made the drinking problem even worse. Even for the short time after the war that he was able to run, it didn’t make him feel the way it used to. “But running wasn’t the same. Once he had felt liberated by it; now it felt forced. Running was joyless, but Louie had no other answer to his internal turmoil” (359). Running was not the same as it used to be for Louie. The war had changed him and running was not helping him recover in any way.