Summary and Analysis
Part IV Chapter 31: The Naked Stampede
The POWs at Naoetsu discern that something catastrophic has happened in Japan but don’t know what it is. On August 15, unexpectedly, the Japanese guards disappear for about an hour and then reappear. Finally, one of the guards admits that the war is over. On August 20, two days before the “kill-all” order is to be enacted, the POWs are assembled outside and told, officially, that the war has ended. The Japanese guards withdraw, leaving the prisoners to celebrate their newfound freedom.
Redemption comes unexpectedly, and liberation comes in stages for Louie and the other POWs. If Naoetsu is a symbol of hell, then Japan’s defeat by American forces is like the gates of hell breaking wide open to release every captive held there.
First, the figurative hell that is Naoetsu is emptied of its demons, if only briefly, when the guards unexpectedly withdraw. Then, the demons return, but they’re subdued and impotent. Finally, the guards pull back completely, with the announcement that the war is over. Louie will soon be free.