Study Guide

Unbroken Albatross

By Laura Hillenbrand

Albatross

Through the Fog it Came

An actual albatross lands on Louie's raft while he, Phil, and Mac are adrift at sea. Ignoring the warning from Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Louie strangles the bird. They try to eat it, but its meat is too stinky to consume—the good news though, is that they make it into fish bait. Phew. Louie considers the whole "bad luck to kill an Albatross" thing, but tells himself "what more bad luck could they have?" (3.14.16)

We're not superstitious enough to attribute the terrible things that happen to Louie and Phil to the unlucky strangling of a bird, but their luck goes from bad to OMG worse. As they're shuffled from POW camp to POW camp, Louie is haunted by an albatross of his own: the guard they call the Bird. Evil Albatross would be a more appropriate nickname for this cruel man whom Louie can't get off his neck. It's a twist on the symbolism from Coleridge's poem, but it's about as dark a reference as they come.