Over time, Louie had become acclimated to the setting of Ofuna. At the end of Chapter Twenty-Two, Louie leaves this world and enters a new, unknown one. Hillenbrand effectively evokes the feeling of suspense and fear that would have accompanied such news for Louie and others. While Ofuna was far from warm and comfortable, Louie knew how to navigate it. He had learned how to survive there, just as he had learned to survive in every other setting of his life. When Louie first entered Ofuna, he thought the POW camp felt “spooky.” He did not sense any communication among the men. Ironically, as horrible as the treatment of the men was, this was a place where Louie developed strong communication and strong relationships with other men. Bill Harris was one of the exceptional human beings he met there, a man of great intelligence and bravery. Hillenbrand does not overtly state Louie’s feelings of love and admiration the men had for one another, but she gives the reader enough information to know how tightly bonded they were, in a network of mutual respect and brotherhood.
In the Bird, Hillenbrand offers readers a psychological case study of a damaged, cruel, and perhaps even evil, human being. Hillenbrand also shows the extreme danger of a person showing pathologic behavior in a leadership position with free reign. The Bird takes delight in hurting people. Tinker would later say that his first impression of the man was that he was a psychopath. He is a tyrant who seems to derive sexual pleasure from beating men and subjecting them to extreme physical conditions. In his erraticism, the Bird would at times apologize, in tears, before transforming back into a violent ruler. Hillenbrand explains the Bird’s privileged background, including a humiliating rejection from officer training that had left him unhinged. Sadly, wartime gives this damaged human being the freedom and opportunity to punish others in ways that defy logic or law.
Every situation in which Louie himself causes the previous situation to appear milder than one could have ever imagined it to be. It is almost as if another straw is added to the proverbial camel’s back. After all of the incredible obstacles Louie has faced and survived, he faces a direct human antagonist in the Bird.