Survival of the Fittest Essay
Hard work and dedication are the sole two pieces to the puzzle of success. A goal set in one’s mind has the capacity to control their mind and guide them in the straight path. In the book Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, Louis Zamperini, who starts off his childhood as a complete mess of a child by stealing things and fighting with others, undergoes a personality change, turning into a confident and respectable man who is trained by his brother, Pete, to run on the track, starting on a simple high school track and escalating all the way up to running in the Olympics.
Later, he embarks upon joining the air force and subsequently gets captured by the Japanese and is sent to POW camps. Throughout Louie’s entire journey in the war, one goal stays in his head, which is participating in the Olympics. Louie’s survival, through endless days of beatings, lacking adequate portions of food, and continuous exertion, was reliant on his remarkable health both physically and psychologically which he achieved solely because of his Olympic dream. Some say that his Olympic dream did more harm than good, but it actually helped him survive.
This is because it gives Louie the ability to remain in a decent condition throughout his thirty-seven day journey on the raft; it also helps him endure nonstop harsh beatings given to him by The Bird when he was singled out for being famous; and it allows him to maintain hope and a positive attitude during his entire imprisonment overall. As Louie, Phil, and Mac are the three survivors of atrocious plane crash, they board a raft in the ocean and that is the beginning of a thirty-seven day journey for them, in which Louie constantly thinks about his future which incorporates the Olympics.
On the raft, Louie seems to be in the best condition of all three men; Phil has a foul cut on his head, and Mac appears to be damaged psychologically. Louie’s health is spectacular at the time of the crash, and he had been working on it for a very long time prior to it, even during the time he was not home. When Louie trains for the war, running is always been a priority, and “He turned a mile in 4:12, a dazzling time given that he was running in sand. He was in the best shape of his life” (Hillenbrand 114).
This explains that even though Louie was off at war, his Olympic dream always remains with him, and in return for that dream, he receives an amazing health that had truly helps him throughout his journey on the raft. Especially in the later times in his journey, when all three men are experiencing rapid decline in their health, Louie especially began to appreciate his condition prior to the crash, because if he hadn’t been healthy, then he would most likely have not been able to survive it.
On the raft, the primary thing they do to occupy themselves, besides deeply thinking about food, is imagining their lives once they return home, and “As they imagined themselves back in the world again, they willed a happy ending onto their ordeal and made it their expectation. With these talks, they had something to live for” (Hillenbrand 146). Louie is most likely imagining his future as a famous track star, and these thoughts provide him with a huge incentive to try to the fullest of his ability to return home.
The Olympic dream is also especially helpful by allowing Louie to remain calm while enduring beatings by The Bird. While all the POW’s are going through a devastating day and night at any camp they resided in, Louie’s experience is particularly different for the worse, because of a frightening Japanese man referred to as The Bird. Louie’s ability to endure incredibly harsh beatings initiated by The Bird is possible for several reasons, one major one being him wanting to keep his Olympic dream alive.
Many people say that Louie’s Olympic dream had caused him to become more susceptible to beatings, however the Olympic dream had in fact allowed Louie to become a tougher, stronger person overall, and if he never associated with running at all, then he would have had a much different personality, and his view in handling the camp situation would have been much different; not for the better. On page 292, it explains the situation at the time Louie has just arrived at Omori, and The Bird is especially unkind with Louie after realizing the fact that he was famous from the Olympics.
Louie is filled with happiness but at the same time incredible fear, both because he had been a recognized athlete, and that he would most likely receive special treatment for being different. As a daily routine at Omori is formed, Louie finds himself lacking enough consumption of protein and has to go steal food behind The Bird’s back, which was extremely risky, not because he became back into his old mischievous self, but because it is completely necessary in order for him to survive, and he truly wants to live through it and be rescued. One of the primary reasons
Louie resorts to stealing food in order to survive, rather than immediately giving up all hope, is his Olympic dream; without that dream, he would have been an ordinary POW who just hoped for a miraculous event to occur in which all of them got saved, without the kill-all order being initiated by the Japanese. Louie’s overall experience at all the camps is enhanced by his Olympic dream, which provides him with tremendous hope, and a positive attitude. During the imprisonment of Louie, he is able to retain faith in himself and a sense of hope that does not seem fake.
Much of the hope is to obtain freedom, and to be get back on the track daily, hoping to become the best miler in the world, and being known everywhere. On page 190, a picture which was in Louie’s wallet is displayed. The picture has Louie as a runner in it, and it was meant to honor Louie for being in the air force, and putting his life on the line. The special trait of this picture is that Louie is depicted as an Olympic runner, which was the common way to refer to him. Louie loves looking at the picture from time to time, and it must fill his mind with excitement as he imagines the future.
Louie imagines what it would be like to come back after being claimed dead and returning to the Olympics too; it would have earned him more than double the attention of a normal Olympic runner. The famousness finally pays off at the camps, and earns him the ability to speak on the live Japanese radio in order to get out the message that he is in a fine condition and still alive, and on pages 256-257, Louie delivers his long, meaningful message in hopes that it will reach his folks in some way. Fortunately it did, and the word spread all across town; and all of this occurs because of his original Olympic Dream.
Louie’s goal in wanting to participate in the next Olympics allows him to make a nearly impossible decision if given so someone else. It was the choice of either being used as Japanese propaganda and living a luxurious POW life without ever seeing The Bird again, or standing up for his country, and face worse pain and misery with the possibility of not even making it home. The goal had meant this much to him, and he chooses the second option. Throughout Louie’s experience from crashing in the plane to ending up on a raft for over a month to becoming a POW at one of the worst camps, his goal is a major reason he successfully returns home.
The goal turns him into a very optimistic person overall. Many argue that he is faced with too many devastating side effects of the war, like nightmares, that it was the same as staying at camp, but the nightmares and crazy stunts he performed had all went away after hearing a man preach, only his goal didn’t. After returning home he keeps running, but unfortunately he is not able to pursue his goal because of medical reasons, however the entire experience overall changed him as a person.
He is able to make rational decisions from that point onward and is still incredibly successful overall, and the original antidote of his survival revolves around his Olympic dream. Setting a goal like Louie and immensely working towards it always offers some sort of benefit whether the original goal is even accomplished or not. It can provide man with the ability to see things from a different perspective and create a new outlook on specific things. Once the puzzle is complete, it is not the end; it is the beginning of a new one, as each new puzzle embarks on a new journey in their lives.