Living in Hollywood, Louie does not know about the announcement of the Bird’s death. Drinking heavily and consumed by a desire to kill the Bird, Louie is unable to financially support himself or his wife. One night at a bar, Louie gropes a woman and gets beaten up by her boyfriend. Cynthia pleads with him to stop drinking, but it does no good.
Remember how, Chapter 1, the Graf Zeppelin blotted out all the lights in the night sky like a black hole? At the beginning of the novel that symbol foreshadowed the coming war, but now it takes on a new meaning, symbolizing how the war opened in Louie a metaphoric black hole that threatens to swallow his self-respect and identity.
In 1948, Cynthia tells him that she’s pregnant. Louie is excited but cannot bring himself out of his rage and alcoholism. One night, while dreaming of killing the Bird, Louie wakes to find himself strangling his pregnant wife. He stops himself and lies back, the blankets twisted like ropes around him.
The ropes symbolize the memories and the hatred that tie Louie down, imprisoning him in the past. Louie’s desire for a revenge that he imagines will give him back his dignity and free him from what the Bird did to him controls him even in sleep, and endangers his family.
Even Louie’s love for his newborn daughter, Cissy, has no effect on pacifying his murderous fantasies and alcoholism. After Cynthia comes home to find Louie violently shaking their child, she takes the child and goes to her parents, threatening to file for divorce.
Louie hits rock bottom. Hurting his only child and forcing his wife to leave him, Louie has lost his self-respect and alienated everyone who loves him. His isolation here mirrors the isolation of Watanabe.
In Japan, early one evening at the end of 1948, Shizuka Watanabe sat on the lower floor of a two-story restaurant in Tokyo, scanning the crowd. Then she sees him: her dead son standing just outside the restaurant.
After making it seem that the Bird had killed himself, Hillenbrand reveals here that in fact the Bird did no such thing. And through this tactic she has shown how both Louie and the Bird are on a similar path, of isolation and despair.