Literary Style and Techniques of Laura Hillenbrand in the Book, Unbroken

Topics: Alcohol

Hillenbrand uses a metaphor when she refers to the B»24 bombers assigned to Louie‘s crew as “The Flying Coffin“. The comparison of the bomber, something which is supposed to be made to be as safe as possible for the crew, and a coffin, which houses dead bodies, really reinforces the unsturdy nature of the 8—24. The negative connotation associated with the bomber in order to draw this comparison emphasizes how the crew members were afraid of flying in the B-24 as a result of its bad safety record Hillenbrand uses foreshadowing to provide background for the outcomes of future events.

Hillenbrand uses foreshadowing when she states that, “The bullets, it turned out, carried lethal speed for only a few feet after entering the waters. One day, this would be very useful knowledge” Hillenbrand’s foreshadowing provides information about Louie’s survival later on, during his encounter with the Japanese bomber from the prologue. Using this information, it can reasonably be predicted that during this encounter later on, Louie will use his knowledge of bullets entering the water to hide underwater and survive the attack, saving his life.

Hillenbrand employs foreshadowing here to create suspense and keep the reader reading to find out the outcome of Louie‘s encounter with the Japanese plane. Hillenbrand uses an onomatopoeia to show the reader the harsh conditions the downed airmen face while adrift at sea when she writes that the sea was “absolutely dark and absolutely silent, save for the chattering of Phil’s teeth.

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“ (Hillenbrand 104). The “chattering” of Phil’s teeth, along with the fact that it was the only sound that could be heard while adrift in the open ocean, emphasizes not only the isolation that the crew is facing but also the harsh environmental conditions that could prove to be harmful to their health, shown by the cold temperatures that make Phil‘s teeth chatter, Hillenbrand, employs personification when she writes the the smell of land “flirted with.

Flirting is a human activity that implies desire and contact, however here Hillenbrand uses it to describe how the smell of the land attracted Louie and Phil. Louie and Phil have been adrift at sea for so long that they long for solid ground under their feet, their desire for the land that is “flirting” with them emphasizes their longing and desire for escape from the raft and salvation on land. Hillenbrand employs a juxtaposition of Louie and Phil’s patriotic attitudes with the seemingly hopeless circumstances they find themselves in among the Japanese Louie and Phil maintain their patriotic mindset even when being physically abused by Japanese officers in an attempt by the Japanese to make the men concede that Japan is the superior nation and will win the war, as shown when they answer “America” when asked who will win, even though it means “[being punched] in the face” Hillenbrand’s use of juxtaposition here helps to exemplify Louie and Phil’s optimistic and patriotic mindsets even in the face of extreme danger, with both captives being aware of the physical violence that would come with disagreeing with the Japanese, to show that both men truly believe in their country.

Hillenbrand uses dramatic irony when Louie meets his former college friend Jimmie Sasaki, who was actually spying for the Japanese, “in the service of [Louie’s] enemy”, while interned at the Ofuna camp. While the reader already knows about Sasaki’s involvement with the Japanese, Louie does not and is astonished that his former friend was actually working for his enemy for as long as they had known each other. Hillenbrand‘s use of dramatic irony reinforces that during times of war, nobody can be trusted, as shown by Sasaki’s betrayal of America to serve the Japanese government. Hillenbrand’s rhetoric is shown to be strongly against the Japanese in WWII. This can be seen through her description of the Japanese “kill all policy” that was used to kill all POWs in case the Americans ever captured a Japanese territory.

Through her description that all POW‘s would be “murdered” like Japan’s 5,000 Korean POW’s, it is clear that Hillenbrand is showing the Japanese to be extremely savage and brutal in their war practices during the Second World War, clearly swaying the audience in favor of realizing the extent and brutality of Japanese crimes during the war, Hillenbrand takes a much darker tone when she writes about the death of Gaga, a resident duck at Ofuna. The Japanese guards “tortured him mercilessly” and “violated the bird”, killing him Hillenbrand’s tone here reflects on the despicable nature of these actions by the Japanese guards, who killed and violated the only thing in the camp that the captive POWs loved and cared for besides each other, just to further break the spirits of the POW‘s and make them feel even worse about their seemingly hopeless situation.

Hillenbrand foreshadows Louie’s coming hardship and suffering at his arrival at the Omori camp, when he meets Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a guard at the camp known to the prisoners as “The Bird”. Hillenbrand writes that the Bird would “dedicate himself to shattering [Louie].”(Hillenbrand 179). The word “shattering” here foreshadows that the Bird will have no mercy on the prisoners and will do whatever it takes to completely destroy their spirits and shatter their hopes, especially Louie‘s. Laura Hillenbrand juxtaposes the POW‘s joy of the B-29 bomber flying over Japan with the discomfort of the Japanese, shown when she writes that the POW’s were “elated” and the Japanese were “unnerved”(Hillenbrand 213). Hillenbrand employs the use of this juxtaposition to reinforce to the reader that the Americans were very near to winning the war, an idea that was disconcerting to the Japanese.

The prospect of American victory keeps both the POW‘s going through their harsh circumstances at Naoetsu, as well as keeping the reader interested and wanting to read more Hillenbrand uses a simile when she says that the Bird “stretched over the roof like a contented cat” when he made Louie hold a heavy wooden beam over his head. Hillenbrand‘s comparison of the Bird to a “contented cat” shows that the Bird is happy as a result of Louie’s suffering, reinforcing to the reader that the Bird is an evil person because of his enjoyment of Louie’s paint Hillenbrand uses a simile when she writes that a freed POW who hasn’t showered since 1941 says that his bath at the immediate end of the war while still in Japan was ”just like a smorgasbord”.

This comparison of a bath which would seem normal to most people, to a “smorgasbord” which is an extravagant luxury, shows once again the unfair treatment given to the POW’s by the Japanese, with basic human requirements like baths not having been provided to them during their internment which now make them seem luxurious. Hillenbrand creates a joyful mood when Louie is finally reunited with his family in Long Beach at the end of the war, when Louie jumps off the plane and “folded himself around” his “sobbing mother” (Hillenbrand 250). Louise’s sobbing shows the emotional toll that was inflicted upon the whole family as a result of Louie’s internment as a POW in Japan, and the joy and happiness felt by both Louie and Louise to know that everything is safe now and their lives can finally return to normal Hillenbrand’s writing take a darker, more vengeful tone when she writes that Louie had plans to “murder the Bird.”

Bird here represents Louie’s deep emotional trauma that occurred as a POW and his desire to seek revenge in order to set things right, showing that louie was willing to go to the extreme of killing his former captor in order to get revenge and find internal peace Hillenbrand emphasizes the internal conflict that Louie faces when she states that he “drank without restraint” when he returned from the war and married. Cynthia(Hillenbrand 274) Louie‘s alcoholism reflects on the reality of POW’S coming home from wars and trying to cope with what has happened to them during their internment Louie‘s heavy drinking shows the psychological trauma that has been inflicted upon him as a result of his internment, resulting in his self-destructive and behavior after the war caused by this internal conflict within him.

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Literary Style and Techniques of Laura Hillenbrand in the Book, Unbroken. (2023, Jan 11). Retrieved from

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