Study Guide

Unbroken Language and Communication

By Laura Hillenbrand

Language and Communication

War is pretty much a failure to communicate on a global scale. Men in power fail to make a peaceful compromise, and instead decide to sentence thousands of others to death to get they want. Miscommunication trickles down to the soldiers too. In Unbroken, English-speaking men are taken prisoner by Japanese-speaking soldiers, and their inability to talk to one another only builds tension that is already thick enough to cut with a butter knife.

It's difficult to have peace when the world doesn't speak a common language. 

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. How do the nicer Japanese guards make efforts to communicate with their prisoners?
  2. In what ways to the POWs use the language barrier in order to rebel against their captors?
  3. Would the POW camps have been a different place if the guards shared the same language as their prisoners?
  4. How does miscommunication cause a delay in information being transmitted around the world at this time?

Chew on This

In the POW camps, the language gap is a double-edged sword. It serves as both a source of frustration and a method of rebellion.

Louie is often forbidden from speaking in the POW camps, so it's no wonder that he wants to tell his story when he gets out—he's making up for a couple years' lost time. 

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