Chapters 24 – 25

Summary Chapters 24 – 25

Back at home, the Zamperinis put on a public face of accepting Louie’s death. Louise and Sylvia even read scripts for a Cecil B. DeMille radio interview. In these scripts, they speak of Louie as if he is dead. Sylvia learns that her husband, Harvey, has been wounded in Holland.

On November 20, Lynn Moody captures a message directly from Louie in which he speaks in detail about his family members and friends. That same day, a woman from the nearby suburb of San Marino calls the Zamperinis to tell them that she too heard Louie’s message. Later that day, the Zamperinis receive a Western Union telegram, followed by many messages.


While the narration is third-person, Hillenbrand’s inclusion of personal testimony and her sharp imagery place the readers in this cruel setting, forcing and allowing readers to stretch their minds. Readers see that hell can be found on earth. The amount of physical abuse that Louie experiences at the hands of the Bird is truly unimaginable. While the conditions at Omori are an improvement over those at Ofuna, Louie does not get a mental respite from extreme physical abuse. The fact that his body is able to withstand all of the beatings is remarkable.

As in other episodes of his life, Louie gathers information and learns to see that beneath the appearance of this world, there is a nearly invisible dynamic of communication and insurgency. As at Ofuna, the soldiers here communicate secretly through code and signs, and plot to take power from their captors. The POWs win back their dignity through acts of sabotage and thievery. These opportunities and small victories give the men enough hope to continue fighting. Through these acts, they feel like soldiers again. This section lends itself well to a Structuralist reading of the text: whereas communication is typically analyzed through language and dialogue, here it can be analyzed outside of them.

As a writer, Hillenbrand shows that people should not believe everything they see, read, or hear.

Hillenbrand shows how people can try to manipulate forms of communicate in order to mislead and control others. She offers information about how people use language in false ways, including the “false news,” or propaganda of the newspapers. Simultaneously, Hillenbrand shows that reading can take many forms. Louie, for example, “reads” Tokyo when he sees it for the first time without blindfolds. The city is emptied of young men and otherwise shows suffering from the war. In the city, Louie sees the truth, that which the propagandistic media does not report.