Study Guide

Unbroken Chapter 14

By Laura Hillenbrand

Chapter 14

Thirst

  • The men on the raft are covered in sunburns and salt sores, and their water cans are empty.
  • Luckily, it starts to rain. Louie realizes that the air pumps are stored in canvas cases, and he uses the cases to catch water.
  • Unfortunately, when a wave splashes inside, the water is ruined by salty ocean water—so Louie sucks the water from the cases and spits it into the canteens.
  • When the rain stops, they realize the canvas cases make excellent hats too.
  • While they may not be thirsty now, they're definitely hungry.
  • An albatross lands on the raft, and Louie catches the bird and snaps its neck.
  • The inside of the bird is too stinky to eat, but they use the meat as bait and catch a few small fish to eat raw.
  • Phil worries that the dead albatross will bring them bad luck, like in the poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." But Louie thinks that after a plane crash, how could things get any worse? (A sure sign that things are about to get worse)
  • The men spend their days lying on the raft and sniffing their earwax, because "the scent of the wax was curiously refreshing" (3.14.18). Okay…
  • To try to stay sane, the men quiz each other constantly, tell each other stories of their pasts, and hum "White Christmas."
  • After two weeks, the rafts are decomposing and the men look grotesque.
  • Will they resort to cannibalism, like the 1820 whaling ship the Essex?
  • No, they won't—instead they resort to prayer.
  • Another albatross comes, giving them more meat for fishing.
  • Louie also puts fish hooks on his fingertips and plays Wolverine, reaching his claws in the water to catch fish.
  • They have to go six days without water. Louie prays to God to quench his thirst, and if he does, he'll dedicate his life to him.
  • God loves a bargain like that, and on the seventh day, the sky opens up and rain falls down.