“Almost Incapable of Discouragement”: The Purpose of Unbroken 11th Grade

There is never a moment in life when adversity is absent, but the true test of resilience presents itself in times when the adversity seems completely grim and utterly unrelenting. In Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand describes the life experiences of Louis Zamperini, a formerly successful Olympic athlete, who, after surviving a plane crash, is put through the very worst of World War II. Using several interviews between herself and Zamperini as a reference, Hillenbrand explains the global conflict through the eyes of Zamperini, as well as the mental war that consumes him and his family in the months following the war. Hillenbrand recounts Zamperini’s instances of mental toughness with powerful phrasing to compose an emotionally appealing story that demonstrates how the human spirit’s resilient optimism pushes the body through pain and adversity.

Hillenbrand places a heavy emphasis on resilience from the very beginning, often times with intent to trigger an emotional response from the reader. She describes a situation early on in Zamperini’s childhood where he deliberately held his head underwater to increase his total lung capacity, usually for extended periods at a time (Hillenbrand 12). By describing such a moment in Zamperini’s...

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