Hillenbrand explains that Louie experiences his last flashback when he recalls the promise he made on the raft. He is profoundly changed by his realizations, enough that he can return home able to resist his former addictions and also able to escape his tormenting nightmares of the bird. He is truly changed by the vision and words offered by Graham, of a God who loves him, who offers forgiveness for past wrongs, and who wants humans to move forward without sin. Louie is particularly affected by Graham’s quoting of the eighth chapter of John, which contains the words “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” Louie hears Graham speak of the miracles God offers and how God offers people “the grace to go forward.”
Chapter Thirty-Nine serves as a final resolution tor Louie’s story. He has reached a plateau of peace. This chapter almost serves as an epilogue to the previous chapter, offering clear illustration of how the conversion experience healed Louie by cleansing him of the anger and hatred he had felt. Those negative feelings have been converted into love and even bliss. Louie has found balance in his relationship with Cynthia, has discovered his calling, and is able to share his healing even with the guards who mistreated him. Louie has reached total peace with his wartime experiences. He is able to look at all the guards with kindness and happiness.
The final chapter is likely to surprise many readers, particularly skeptics, who might be hesitant to believe that Louie could have shed all of his anger and anxiety, or that he could have been transformed so fully. It could be off-putting to people who are not Christian, since Louie’s conversion is the result of embracing Christian ideas as delivered by a famous preacher. Yet, if the reader is open-minded, this chapter can also offer opportunity to reflect on ways anyone can find peace and healing through forgiveness, humility, and compassion. This can apply to any kind of emotional healing, not just healing from the large-scale, extreme trauma experienced by Louie.