Study Guide

Unbroken Chapter 1

By Laura Hillenbrand

Chapter 1

The One-Boy Insurgency

  • On August 26, 1929, a twelve-year-old Louis Zamperini looksoutside to see a massive object blocking out the sky.
  • No, it's not the Death Star—it's the Graf Zepplin, a German dirigible.
  • Louie is impressed with it, as any young boy would be at the time (i.e. a time before iPads).
  • This kid is quite the troublemaker in his spare time, and he steals food, able to run like a bat outta heck to get away from his pursuers.
  • However, even though he was in awe of that dirigible, planes scare him—he sees one land and wants "nothing to do with airplanes" (1.1.21). (Shmoopers, this is what we call irony and foreshadowing.)
  • Louie has a handsome older brother, Pete, whom he idolizes. Pete pulls the same stunts Louie does; Pete just doesn't get caught.
  • Because Louie is always getting into so much trouble, his parents are frustrated and worried that his lack of ambition will affect him in high school.
  • Louie worries about this too. He reads western novels and dreams of running away from home.