Summary and Analysis
Part IV Chapter 25: B-29
By late October 1944, the Americans are using a powerful new warplane, the B-29. When the Omori POWs see a B-29 fly over Japan on reconnaissance, it gives them great hope, the first real sign that America is winning the war. The Bird takes out his anger at the B-29s on the prisoners. He also takes to beating Louie with the heavy, brass buckle on his belt, causing temporary deafness in Louie’s left ear. Then, in November, Louie is unexpectedly chosen for a propaganda radio broadcast from Japan to America. To his surprise, the Japanese will let him say whatever he wants, so Louie agrees. When the broadcast reaches America, Louie’s family finally finds out he is still alive.
For the first time since his plane went down in the Pacific Ocean, Louie sees tangible evidence that his hope to be saved is not unfounded.
First, the introduction of the B-29 bomber planes into WWII—and subsequently the prisoners’ awareness of these planes flying over the POW camp—marks a shift in Louie’s journey. For Louie, the bomber symbolizes hope that he and the others will be liberated. It’s a reminder that he’s not alone, that all of America is fighting for his rescue—and that America’s power makes his captors tremble in fear.
Second, Louie finds hope in being able to finally let his family know he is alive. Up to this point, his captivity has remained a Japanese secret; but when a man is known to still be alive, he can then be an object of rescue. Louie’s life as a POW doesn’t get easier, but at least now he knows there really is hope of rescue if he can only survive.