I Am Legend is such an interesting read, it brings me through such a turbulence of emotions that only a good suspense novel can. What intrigues me in each of the novels we read are the differences and similarities between the vampires. This is the first book we have read where the focus is on more than one vampire, the focus is on the bulk of humanity that has become infected. The tables have been turned as Robert Neville is in the minority now. He is immune to the disease and thus able to fight the vampires. In other novels we have looked at, the humans are in the majority and the vampires (or singular vampire) are the ones that need to hide from humanity. Now, it is the other way around, Neville has to hide himself from the vampires.
This is a very common "us versus them" scenario and it's interesting to see how Matheson created different groups of people. I can definitely pick up on the racial subtexts within the novel, the segregation and the struggles to live in separation from the Others, while the fear of being in jeopardy and forced to take on change is constantly lingering in their minds.
Perhaps the vampires in this novel are not simply acting on instinct, on their lust for blood. Perhaps they fear and despise Neville as much as he hated and loathes them. To the vampires, perhaps Neville is the monster.
Ruth points out while she is staying with him that what he does is horrific, yet he does not seem to accept that idea.
"That's why the woman I told you about broke down so rapidly,' he said, 'She'd been dead so long that as soon as air struck her system the germs caused spontaneous dissolution.'
Her throat moved and a shudder ran down through her.
'It's horrible.' She said.
He looked at her in surprise. Horrible? Wasn't that odd? He hadn't thought that for years. For him the word horror had become obsolete. A surfeiting of terror soon made terror a cliche. To Robert Neville the situation merely existed as a natural fact. It had no adjectives." (P.146)
Perhaps we should look at things from the 'Other' point of view. The vampires, the infected at least are not mindless creatures. We have the examples of Cortman and Ruth to prove that fact. Cortman is able to speak, he calls for Neville. At first I thought this was merely residual or lasting memories that the body might have retained before the change, but he has a sense of purpose and a mind and ideas of his own. And Ruth is even more complex. Her character shows emotion. She shows fear when she first meets Neville, she shows indecision and regret and she may even have the capability to love. These vampires are not just monsters.
"But now it's different. I know now that you were just as much forced into your situation as we were forced into ours." (P.154)