Study Guide

Unbroken Perseverance

By Laura Hillenbrand


The men had been adrift for twenty-seven days. […] The men's bodies were pocked with salt sores, and their lips were so swollen that they pressed into their nostrils and chins. (Prologue.2)

Ouch—this is painful. And the prologue only <em>hints </em>at the situations Louie and his pals are going to have to push through in order to survive. But this is enough to know that this is about as far from <em>Gilligan's Island</em> as we're going to get. 

Confident that he was clever, resourceful, and bold enough to escape any predicament, [Louie] was almost incapable of discouragement. When history carried him into war, this resilient optimism would define him. (1.1.22)

Well, it doesn't get much more black-and-white than that. "Resilient optimism" is perhaps the best trait to have when you are trying to persevere through difficult times. 

To expand his lung capacity, [Louie] ran to the public pool at Redondo Beach, dove to the bottom, grabbed the drain plug, and just floated there, hanging on a little longer each time. Eventually, he could stay underwater for three minutes and forty-five seconds. (1.2.12)

Once again, we see how Louie's teenage perseverance serves to save his life later on in the war. If he hadn't been so persistent as a teen, he probably would have drowned when the <em>Green Hornet </em>crashed.

[Louie] trained so hard that he rubbed the skin right off one of his toes, leaving his sock bloody. (1.3.9)

Um, ouch. Louie <em>really </em>has to push through the pain if, as a runner, he's running with bloody feet. 

Louie could feel his feet cooking: the spikes on his hoes were conducting heat up from the track. (1.3.20)

Here we see the mind-over-matter attitude that Louie embodies during his track career, a method of pushing away pain that will come in handy when he's at war. 

"I can fly this thing anywhere," Phil said, turning the plane into the storm. (2.8.12)

Phil's perseverance can sometimes come across as arrogance. But it's not arrogance if you always succeed, is it?

It was likely, they all knew, that they'd crash on landing, if not before. Whatever thoughts each man had, he kept them to himself. (2.9.55)

The battle to keep the <em>Super Man </em>from crashing into the ocean is more of a battle of wits and wills than the fight against the Japanese is. And thanks to the crew's perseverance and ingenuity, they survive. 

Somewhere in those jagged days, a fierce conviction came over Louise. She was absolutely certain that her son was alive. (3.13.49)

Here we get a glimpse of where some of Louie's perseverance comes from: his family. They too persevere while Louie is at war, and never once does Louise cave into the thought that her son might be dead. 

The same attributes that had made [Louie] the boy terror of Torrance were keeping him alive in the greatest struggle of his life. (3.14.34)

This quote is a reiteration of quote (1.1.22), the main attribute here being the aforementioned "resilient optimism." A boy terror needs that belief that he will never be caught and, if he does, that he can get out. 

Louie wrote to Cynthia almost every day, and every morning at ten-thirty, he sat waiting for the mailman to bring him a pink envelope from Cynthia. (5.33.41)

Even after the war, Louie remains single-mindedly focused on his goals. When he sets his eye on Cynthia, he won't stop until he earns her hand in marriage.