Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Force of Habit

One topic I was thinking about writing in my blog last week was the similarities between the vampires and Robert Neville. I know I had discussed how Neville was a hero in my opinion, but I have read my peer's comments and thought back to this topic and started to rethink my original claim. It occurred to me while I was reading, this week and last week, that Neville shares some qualities with his blood sucking enemies. Both Neville and the vampires of Matheson's novel are creatures of habit. Neville has lived alone fighting off the vampires by himself for quite awhile and his day to day activities turn into a daily routine of “carrying away of bodies, the repairing of the house exterior, the hanging of garlic” (Matheson 50). “After breakfast he threw th paper plate and cup into the trash box and brushed his teeth” which Neville saw as his “one good habit” (Matheson 23). While he stayed cooped up in his house at night because of the vampires outside, the monotony continued. “Every night it was the same. He'd be reading and listening to music. Then he'd start to think about soundproofing the house, then he'd think about the women” (Matheson 19). He would try to break up the routine but in frustration he'd give up almost immediately. “He'd go to bed and put the plugs in his ears. It was what he ended up doing every night anyway” (Matheson 21). Once in bed, “his mind spoke the words it spoke ever night. Dear God, let the morning come. He dreamed about Virginia and he cried out in his sleep and his fingers gripped the sheets like frenzied talons” (Matheson 22). Day after day he did the same things and more than the vampires, he realized “monotony was the greatest obstacle” (Matheson 111). Neville never realized how much alike him and the vampires were. He would ask himself “why didn't they leave him alone? Did they think they could all have him? Were they so stupid they thought that? Why did they keep coming every night? After five months, you'd think they'd give up and try elsewhere” (Matheson 20). Neville thought they were stupid but they were just doing the same thing he was doing. They were trying to survive and the way they knew how to do that was to do the same things every day. Part of their survival comes from “staying inside by day” (Matheson 27). Neville goes out during the day and hunts and then spends his nights inside. The vampires are the exact opposite of that; they spend their days inside while their nights are spent “outside on the lawn, [their] dark figures st[and] like silent soldiers on duty” 'hunting' him (Matheson 22). Lastly when Neville goes out to collect the bodies the next day of the vampires that were sacrificed, “they were almost always women” (Matheson 23). The vampires in Matheson's novel are just as habitual as Neville is.

1 comment:

  1. Sara, I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I think you touch on one of the hallmark methods in which Matheson forces us as readers to reevaluate who is truly the victim in this novel. You aptly point out that, “Neville never realized how much alike him and the vampires were.” Throughout the novel we are given pointed examples of their similarities, and only in the last sentence do we see what has happened as the story has played out over the 3 years passed in the novel. Neville continues through sheer habit and routine, as he has placed more distance between himself and his humanity, to kill scores of vampires. This is further compounded by the emotional separation which has served to render him a cold and scientific killer. In his later stages, before Ruth, he is seemingly unable to feel passion or terror. Instead choosing to live his life through the comfort of monotony, never again willing to bare his emotions to the world which has abandoned him. A truly lonely and cruel existence.
    However, in the end he becomes legend. An infamous killer who indiscriminately kills for reasons seemingly as pure and noble as reestablishing humans as the dominant, while in fact he may only be killing as a comfort for his own emotional state. Dracula was feared and turned to legend by his native villagers much the same happens to Neville, he soon becomes the stuff of myth and is loathed by the new powers as man too dangerous to live.