Realizing that the white church would stand out brilliantly
on the dark atoll, a marine named Fonnie Black Ladd ran in and yelled at the
natives to get out. When they wouldn't move, he drew his sidearm. They
Waving a gun in
someone's general direction is the universal symbol for <em>get the shmoop out</em>.
One of the Japanese opened his shirt and pointed to his
chest. He seemed to want the Americans to do the same. As Louie opened his
shirt, he braced himself, expecting to be shot, but no shot came. The man had
only wanted to see if they were armed. (3.17.13)
Because of the
language differences between the Japanese and their prisoners, there is a lot
of communication done with only gestures. Sometimes, this causes a lot of
anxiety as to what these gestures actually <em>mean.</em>
The pretext for many of the outbursts was miscommunication.
The captives and their guards came from cultures with virtually no overlap in
language or custom. (4.18.20)
any instance can be frustrating. Add a prisoner/guard dynamic and weapons to
the mix though, and miscommunication can be downright dangerous.
</em>was a greeting, used by the occasional civil guard. Though Louie
soon knew what it meant, his stock reply was "No, California."
Louie employs a
little bit of language-difference humor to lighten the mood just a fraction. In
a POW camp, every little thing you can do to lighten the mood counts.
A couple of captives sat on other benches across the
compound, hiding their hands from the guards' view and gesturing to each other
in Morse code—fists for dots and flat hands for dashes. (4.19.19)
This is an ingenious
method for the POWs to communicate secretly with each other. Morse Code becomes
a third language, in addition to English and Japanese, to use.
The boldest captives would walk up to the guards, look
straight at them, and speak in English, using a querying tone. (4.20.11)
Because many of the
Japanese guards don't understand English at all, the POWs can say whatever they
want to them as long as they use an appropriate tone of voice. It's yet another
small act of rebellion the POWs use to stand up for themselves.
In the other [book], [Harris] had begun creating an
elaborate Japanese-English dictionary. Inside, he had written sentences in
Japanese and English—"I feel like eating melon," "Don't you
intend to buy a piano"—followed by notes on proper phrasing, verbs, and
While we admire
Harris's resolve, we're not sure exactly what he hopes to achieve by chatting
with guards about melons and pianos. The translations of military terms—like
tank and bomber—that he keeps track of later seem a lot more useful.
[Stephan] address it using contact information typed in the
message, misunderstood as Louise Vancerini, 2028 Brammersee Street, Terence,
doesn't always mean an act of rebellion or a cause for anger, and in this case,
it causes a delay in the transmission of information. If the person who heard
the radio broadcast had been a native English speaker, the message likely would
have reached Louie much faster.
Kano was arrested and jailed as a suspected war criminal.
[…] Perhaps the explanation was that his last name was similar to those of two
vicious men, Tetsuharo Kato […] and Hiroaki Kono. (5.35.17)
It's sad that there
can be a miscommunication among people that speak the same language, especially
one like this, that causes a man to be unfairly jailed.
[Louie] begun a new life as a Christian speaker, telling his
story all over America. (5.39.2)
In the end, Louie
harnesses his strong communication skills and uses them to inspire people
across the country. Yay.