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Like Edward, David only shows up for one part of this novel, but when he does, his story takes center stage, too. So let's find out more about this guy.
Flight Lieutenant David Thompson from the 331st Fighter Squadron isn't having a particularly great day when his plane gets shot down over Blessed Island, but things look up a bit when Erik finds him lying in a field with a broken ankle and brings the wounded soldier home with him. Things get kind of tense from there, though, because Erik isn't really that keen on the whole World War II thing:
"So what would you have me do? I'd like nothing more than to fly away, I promise you that. Just give me my pistol back and I'll be gone."
Erik grunts, turns, and washes his hands in the sink.
Drying them, he turns back to David.
"I dropped your gun in the sea," he says. "It is part of your war, your life, not ours."
"What do you mean by 'my war'? The enemy…"
"The enemy? There are two sides fighting in this war, are there not? But yes, though we said we will not take part, we have your enemy on our soil anyway. They should not be here, but there are reports of them all along the coast. And they hunt for the enemy soldiers. For airmen whose airplanes have crashed. Just like you. And they will come looking for you, and then your war will come here, to Blest Island." (3.6.27-32)
David may be wounded, but that doesn't stop him from still being super courageous. Not only was he risking his life to fight Nazis, he's also steady in the face of a broken ankle and man who hates him, which takes some grit. He's in a ton of pain, but he stoically pushes through it, and he even feels guilty for intruding on Erik and his family, who clearly don't want him there:
Eventually, David can stand the atmosphere no longer, and after they have finished their evening meal of chicken stew and black bread, with great effort, he stands up. He looks at the three whose lives he is endangering.
"Throw me out," he says. "I can't bear this, and I can't be responsible for your safety. Put me in a cart and drop me back in the fields somewhere. I'll fight my way out of this. I've done it before."
He has done no such thing, but it makes him feel brave to say it. (3.7.22-24)
Bravery doesn't mean someone doesn't feel nervous, right? And here we see David acting in a way that seems brave to him, that "makes him feel brave," even though he's fully aware of how against him the odds are.
To be clear, though, David hates being grounded, but not just because of his injury and his imposition. Nope, he really and truly loves to fly:
He looks at the sky, his real home. That is where I should be, he thinks. In the blue heavens, the engine growling in front of me, the wind whistling behind me. It was why he joined the Royal Air Force, really. If he was going to fight, and if he might be going to die, at least he could fly like an angel first.
That is where I should be. Up there.
But now he is earthbound, and worse than earthbound, for he cannot even walk. He is a worm, stuck to the surface of a ball of mud. (3.3.7-9)
David loves the freedom that flying gives him—he feels at "home" in the sky—so being earthbound now is extra terrible.
His accident challenges him in a different way, though, too: David's life is centered on the war, but Erik and his family give him a different perspective. Their daughter was killed by a plane that bombed their farm, so despite wanting nothing to do with the war, they've suffered a major casualty. This reminds David of his own daughter, Merle, and this love for Merle is what finally connects Erik and David. Both men adore their daughters, and the moment when David risks being burned to save a photograph of Merle is when Erik's opinion of the airman changes:
David hears him but ignores him, and ignores the burns he's inflicting on himself, as he turns his jacket inside out, searching for something as if his life depends on it.
Finally, he finds what he is looking for, drops the jacket on the ground, and sits back, speechless. (3.9.19-20)
In the end, Erik sacrifices his life to save David. Not only is David grateful for the help Erik, Rebecka, and Benjamin give him in getting well, but he always remembers what Erik gave up for him. He knows it's not something he can ever repay; however, he passes on the story to his daughter, Merle, who loves hearing it. He deletes the sad ending, though, so Merle doesn't get to hear about Erik's tragic final moments. David never forgets them.