Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Am Legend Part Two

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)


  1. I think the differences in the vampires in all the stories that we’ve read is very important. Polidori’s Vampyre was a charming nobleman, similar to Dracula, who was a mysterious yet civilized man from the East. Carmilla also projected an intelligent and exquisite exterior. Over the hundreds of years that these three have been vampires, they are more cultured beings than the inhabitants of London and Styria.

    The vampires in I am Legend aren’t really described in detail, although they are initially portrayed as much more savage and uncivilized than the other three vampires. Even Neville’s past friends and associates (specifically Ben) aren’t given a description or a point of view. Upon first glance, it might seem as if they are dull or less intelligent, yet when Ruth is introduced, she and the other evolved vampires prove this to be wrong. I think you bring up a great point about how Ruth shows emotions. In a lot of ways, Ruth seems to be the most rational being in the story. Carmilla showed emotions as well, although most centered around having (or not having) Laura. It seems as if Ruth generally feels for Neville -- not just sexually, but for his situation. She writes to Neville, “I was so terribly frightened of what you’d do when you found out … When we were together in the darkness, close to each other, I wasn’t spying on you. I was loving you” (155). This reminds me somewhat of Carmilla, yet Ruth’s sincerity is much more believable because she wasn’t actually feeding off of Neville.

  2. I think it's really interesting that you talk about the vampire's point of view, and how Robert can be seen as a monster to them. I like that you brought it up, because in general people dislike things that are different from themselves or what they know. Robert hates the vampires and the vampires hate him because they are two different groups.

    I agree that Ben and Ruth both have personalities and thoughts and a purpose in this novel. However, what of the other vampires? I know that the author can't possibly bring into play all the vampires, but the others seem to be just a faceless crowd doing the same thing night after night. Maybe the personalities of the two previously mentioned vampires were supposed to imply the fact that these vampires are, in fact, intelligent beings.