Summary and Analysis
Part IV Chapter 22: Plots Afoot
During summer of 1944, Louie begins working as a barber in order to earn meager amounts of food that will keep him from starving to death. Conditions at Ofuna are horrendous and abusive, including endless beatings. Louie, Bill Harris, and Frank Tinker plan an escape: They will sneak out of Ofuna, steal a plane, and fly out of Japan. Fear of collective punishment of their fellow POWs finally prompts them to call off the plan. On September 30, Louie and Frank are transferred out of Ofuna, heading to the Omori POW camp outside of Tokyo.
Louie’s escape plan is nothing more than wishful thinking, but for a short time at least it does bring hope. Planning escape is a means for the men to feel a little bit human again, a way for them to reclaim, ever so slightly, control over their own lives—a right of fundamental human dignity. Although the plan ultimately fails, it is an important survival tactic nonetheless.
Additionally, Hillenbrand imbues this period at Ofuna with an abundance of evidence that once again reinforces her goals of presenting an accurate portrayal of the circumstances of WWII. Specific names and dates are littered throughout this chapter, along with clear-eyed testimonials to specific abuses that occur in the POW camp. Hillenbrand wants to emphasize that what she’s written is a true story, that readers can verify the factualness of what she writes.