Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man's soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.
I am in an altogether new world now. I can think of nothing more wonderful. It is a real touch of all that heaven means.
He had no money and no home; he lived entirely on the road of the racing circuit, sleeping in empty stalls, carrying with him only a saddle, his rosary, and his books....The books were the closest thing he had to furniture, and he lived in them the way other men live in easy chairs.
But on Kwajalein, the guards sought to deprive them of something that had sustained them even as all else had been lost: dignity. This self-respect and sense of self-worth, the innermost armament of the soul, lies at the heart of humanness; to be deprived of it is to be dehumanized, to be cleaved from, and cast below, mankind.
The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when they make their tormentors suffer. In seeking the Bird's death to free himself, Louie had chained himself, once again, to his tyrant. During the war, the Bird had been unwilling to let go of Louie; after the war, Louie was unable to let go of the Bird.
The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when their tormentors suffer.
A fantastically huge, roiling cloud, glowing bluish gray, swaggered over the city. It was more than three miles tall. Below it Hiroshima was boiling.
Wonderful? wrote J.O. Young in his diary. To stand cheering, crying, waving your hat and acting like a damn fool in general. No one who has spent all but 16 days of the this war as a Nip prisoner can really know what it means to see 'Old Sammy' buzzing around over camp.
Though the captives' resistance was dangerous, through such acts, dignity was preserved, and through dignity, life itself.
Such beauty, he thought, was too perfect to have come about by mere chance. That day in the center of the Pacific was, to him, a gift crafted deliberately, compassionately, for him and Phil. Joyful and grateful in the midst of slow dying, the two men bathed in that day until sunset brought is, and their time in the doldrums, to an end.
Louie was furious at the sharks. He had thought that they had an understanding:The men would stay out of the sharks' turf - the water - and the sharks would stay off of theirs - the raft. That the sharks had taken shots at him when he had gone overboard, and when the raft had been mostly submerged after the strafing, had seemed fair enough. But their attempt to poach men from their reinflated raft struck Louie as dirty pool. He stewed all night, scowled hatefully at the sharks all day, and eventually made a decision. if the sharks were going to try to eat him, he was going to try to eat them.
ALL HE COULD SEE, IN EVERY DIRECTION, WAS WATER. It was June 23, 1943. Somewhere on the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Army Air Forces bombardier and Olympic runner Louie Zamperini lay across a small raft, drifting westward. Slumped alongside him was a sergeant, one of his plane’s gunners. On a separate raft, tethered to the first, lay another crewman, a gash zigzagging across his forehead. Their bodies, burned by the sun and stained yellow from the raft dye, had winnowed down to skeletons. Sharks glided in lazy loops around them, dragging their backs along the rafts, waiting.
Without dignity, identity is erased. In its absence, men are defined not by themselves, but by their captors and the circumstances in which they are forced to live.
Louie found the raft offered an unlikely intellectual refuge. He had never recognized how noisy the civilized world was. Here, drifting in almost total silence, with no scents other than the singed odor of the raft, no flavors on his tongue, nothing moving but the slow porcession of shark fins, every vista empty save water and sky, his time unvaried and unbroken, his mind was freed of an encumbrance that civilization had imposed on it. In his head, he could roam anywhere, and he found that his mind was quick and clear, his imagination unfettered and supple. He could stay with a thought for hours, turning it about.
She dressed in bohemian clothes, penned novels, panted, and yearned to roam forgotten corners of the world. She was habitually defiant and fearless, and when she felt controlled, as she often did, she could be irresistibly willfull. Mostly, she was bored silly by the vanilla sort boys who trailed her around, and by the stodgy set in Miami Beach.