Chapters 10 – 11

Summary Chapters 10 – 11


Chapter Ten provides important insight into the other side of bombing raids. The reader has been cheering Louie on as he drops bombs from above, not really thinking of the receiving end of the attacks. Through this chapter, however, one sees the absolute destruction and brutality of these attacks. This particular attack is made even more terrible by the fact that the men just returned from a death-defying mission. But that’s the nature of war. The men are never safe and are never awarded their well-deserved rest or praise—at least not until the war is over. As Louie performs future raids, the reader will remember this chapter and perhaps be a little more hesitant to cheer for Louie’s successful bomb drops.

The change of Louie’s crew leaves both Louie and the reader feeling quite uneasy. There seemed to be something almost magical about Super Man and its crew. With a new crew and a new plane, it is unreasonable to expect that same magic to exist. Whereas Louie and the Super Man were always able to make it through the most difficult of situations, one has to wonder whether the luck will continue. Hillenbrand ends Chapter Ten on a foreboding note, which foreshadows the disaster to come in Chapter Eleven.

In the narrative pattern that Hillenbrand has presented up to this point in the book, Louie’s highs are followed by lows, and the lows are followed by highs. His life is a roller-coaster ride. As a character and person, Louie has a remarkable ability to rebound from the lows. He is a dynamic character, an adaptable person. Hillenbrand begins Chapter Eleven with Louie finally getting out of his slump. He has been depressed and cold to others, but finally he seems happy and is healthier than ever. The running episode gives the reader a false sense of calm for what is to come. If one did not know better, one might expect that this would lead to Louie’s return to competitive running, with a future Olympics ahead of him. Yet, soon the reader realizes something will go wrong. When the lieutenant orders Louie and crew to fly in Green Hornet, their hesitance says everything. The reader is reminded of the hesitance Louie felt during the mission to Nauru, when he was ordered to fly lower than made sense to him. Again, he receives orders that he disagrees with, but that he must follow. As a plane, Green Hornet is no Super Man. Additionally, the plane lacks the tight crew of Super Man, a crew that only barely escaped disaster thanks to the teamwork of the crew. Immediately, the mood changes.

The end of Chapter Eleven presents Louie’s first true experience with being on the brink of death. In some ways, one could even say that this is the first time he dies, and the first time he is reborn after death. Amazingly, this pattern will continue across Louie’s dramatic life. The odd sense of calm that comes before the crash is a result of the many trials that Louie and company have been through. While they may not have seemed to recognize their luck up until this point, Louie realizes that he could have died many times before this incident and has been fortunate to survive.