Summary and Analysis Part IV Chapter 21: Belief


Back in Torrance, California, the news that Louie is missing and likely dead arrives to the Zamperini family via telegram on June 4, 1943. Louie’s mother, Louise, is convinced that her son is still alive. Louie’s brother, Pete, and his sister, Sylvia, worry for their brother and for Sylvia’s husband, Harvey, who has also gone to war. Phil’s fiancée, Cecy Perry, and the Phillips family hope that Phil has survived. In early 1944, American troops capture Kwajalein Island, finding evidence of Louie and Phil’s possible survival. Still, the evidence is ambiguous, so the families are not notified. Louie’s father, Anthony, and Pete begin making plans to search for Louie at the war’s end.


In this chapter, Hillenbrand again breaks away from Louie’s narrative, this time to relate the experience of Louie’s family and friends back home in America. While Louie lives in a physical, man-made hell, his family must endure an emotional hell. Their love for Louie binds them to his suffering, and his disappearance causes them fear and worry. They combat their emotional struggles with the only weapon at their disposal: hope.

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