Summary and Analysis
Part IV Chapter 26: Madness
The propaganda men are pleased with Louie’s broadcast. They house him in comfort and feed him well. Then they tell him to record another broadcast by reading a script they’ve written to undermine America’s war effort. Louie refuses and is sent back to The Bird’s abuse at the Omori POW camp. During the next few months, the POWs are treated to more B-29 sightings and see some of the American bombing runs over Tokyo firsthand. But the Omori camp remains untouched. Three hundred miles away, Phil endures similar abuse and deprivation at the Zentsuji POW camp. Just before the New Year, the news comes: The Bird is being transferred from Omori.
Louie’s refusal to become a propaganda tool for his Japanese captors shows remarkable growth. Often in his life, Louie has ignored the needs of others to indulge his wants at any cost—for example, his thefts of food and flouting of the law as a boy. In this situation, though, he chooses to deny his own desperate needs in order to honor fellow POWs, other military servicemen, and all Americans back home. This denial is even more significant because it includes turning away from the promise of food. From childhood, food has always symbolized emotional safety and comfort for Louie, but he denies himself that emotional satisfaction in order to stay true to his country. This is an exceptional moment for Louie Zamperini. It symbolizes a moral repentance characterized by new inner strength.