Summary and Analysis
Part V Chapter 39: Daybreak
With the help of Cynthia and his new Christian faith, Louie begins to put his life and marriage back together. He is also determined to forgive the brutal sadists who tortured him as a POW. In 1950, he returns to Japan, specifically to Sugamo Prison, where many war criminals are being kept. He meets personally with his former tormentors, extending a hand of forgiveness to each one. Only The Bird is not present.
According to Louie and Hillenbrand, Louie’s spiritual redemption becomes both the motivation and the strength for him to finally break his addiction to alcohol and to save his marriage. (Louie and Cynthia stayed married to each other for the rest of their lives.) The real power of Louie’s redemption, though, is that it gives him the strength to forgive his captors—including The Bird—and free himself from the bonds of PTSD.
Understanding Louie’s absolution of his captors is the true impetus that intrigued Hillenbrand enough to write Unbroken. She notes that her attempt to understand how Louie could forgive these men for the horrors they committed against him is what “hooked” her into writing the biography.