I Am Legend

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Grief, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Otherness Theme Icon
Grief, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Survival and Violence Theme Icon
Science Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in I Am Legend, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Grief, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon

I Am Legend contains a surprising amount of psychological insight about grief, loneliness, and depression. The novel’s main character, Robert Neville, is the last human being left on Earth—everyone else has been turned into a vampire. Neville thus has to deal with the psychological effects of being completely alone—a fate that is, in some ways, worse than becoming a vampire.

Without any human connection whatsoever, Neville is forced to take refuge in his memories of other people. Every day, it’s suggested, he thinks about his wife, Virginia, and his child, Kathy, both of whom died in the vampire plague of 1975. Neville’s memories of his wife and child are horrific: after Kathy succumbed to the plague, he burned her body. Furthermore, after Virginia died of the plague, Neville buried her underground; when she rose from the grave, a full-fledged vampire, Neville was forced to kill her with a wooden stake. The way that Neville relives the death of wife and his child day after day suggests the symptoms of trauma. While some human beings overcome their trauma by interacting with other people—in essence, diluting their old, traumatizing memories with new, happy ones—Neville has no one to talk to: he’s all alone with his depression. As a result, he spends his time drinking heavily and playing loud music, in a vain effort to escape his own grief.

Neville tries many different remedies for his grief, loneliness, and depression, none of which “cure” him entirely. Throughout the novel, he drinks heavily—a remedy that staves off depression temporarily, but ultimately makes it worse. More successfully, he tries to set himself a routine: driving around Los Angeles to kill vampires, researching the science of vampirism, fortifying his house, etc. Routine gives Neville the strength to survive his new life; it gives him a sense of control over his own destiny, and provides him with something to look forward to when he goes to bed every night. Finally, Neville seizes the opportunity to make connections with an outsider—first a dog, and then a woman named Ruth, whom Neville believes to be a human being (but who is actually a vampire). In both cases, Neville risks his own safety in order to bond with an outsider: his hunger for someone to talk to easily outweighs the possibility that his new acquaintance will hurt him. But in both cases, Neville fails to forge an emotional connection between himself and his new acquaintance. The dog succumbs to the vampire plague, and Ruth betrays Neville to her fellow vampires. Ruth’s betrayal steers Neville (and the novel) toward a frightening conclusion: as the last human being left on Earth, Neville will never truly escape his own loneliness and depression. The other potential interpretation of the book’s final line (in addition to the one discussed in the Otherness theme) is that Neville has finally come to accept his own mortality and his own isolation from the rest of the world. As the last member of the human race, his days are numbered—soon, he, and the entire human race, will fade into a distant memory.

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Grief, Loneliness, and Depression ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Grief, Loneliness, and Depression appears in each Chapter of I Am Legend. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Grief, Loneliness, and Depression Quotes in I Am Legend

Below you will find the important quotes in I Am Legend related to the theme of Grief, Loneliness, and Depression.
Chapter 1 Quotes

With a stiffening of rage, he wrenched up the record and snapped it over his right knee. He'd meant to break it long ago. He walked on rigid legs to the kitchen and flung the pieces into the trash box. Then he stood in the dark kitchen, eyes tightly shut, teeth clenched, hands clamped over his ears. Leave me alone, leave me alone, leave me alone!

Related Characters: Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Music
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

In Chapter One, Robert Neville has been defending himself from the vampires of Los Angeles for five months. He’s fortified his house, boarding up all the windows and reinforcing the doors. By day, Neville travels around the city, killing any sleeping vampires he can find. In the evenings, he barricades himself in his house, trying to distract himself from the sounds of vampires outside by listening to old classical music records.

In the passage, it becomes clear that Neville is having a hard time adjusting to his new role as last uninfected man in Earth. The records can’t entirely distract him from the vampires, and in this scene, he becomes so furious with his isolation that he breaks the record over his knee.

Another aspect of Neville’s psychological torment that’s hinted at in the passage (in addition to his isolation) is his celibacy. On more than one occasion, Neville is sexually drawn to the vampires of the night—he hasn’t been with a woman since the death of his wife in 1975, and every night, the female vampires try to lure him outside. Matheson is fond of using phallic, sexualized language to hint at Neville’s erotic torment, and in this passage, the word “stiffening” could suggest his sexual frustrations.


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Chapter 3 Quotes

He thought of the eleven—no, the twelve children that afternoon, and he finished his drink in two swallows.

Related Characters: Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Vampires, Alcohol
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

In Chapter Three, Neville has wrapped up a busy day of killing vampires with wooden stakes. Back in his house, he thinks about the vampires he killed, some of whom were children, and shudders. To distract himself from his own guilt, he drinks heavily.

One of the basic questions that Matheson poses in I Am Legend is, “Is Neville morally justified in killing vampires in their sleep?” In this passage, Matheson gives us reason to believe that the answer is no. Deep down, Neville seems to know that he’s doing something horribly wrong when he kills vampires, especially children—that’s why he’s trying to forget about his acts of killing. In general, the passage foreshadows the novel’s famous ending, in which Neville comes to realize that, from the vampire’s perspective, he’s the monster.

Chapter 4 Quotes

Another thought: That man had been one of the true vampires; the living dead. Would sunlight have the same effect on those who were still alive?
The first excitement he'd felt in months made him break into a run for the station wagon.

Related Characters: Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Vampires
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel progresses, Neville (and we, the readers) learn more about the different kinds of vampires. In this passage, Neville speaks of “true vampires, the living dead” and “those who were still alive.” As we come to understand, some vampires have no conscious minds—they’re just feral, aggressive creatures. These vampires originated from human corpses, people who’d already died of the vampire plague and been buried in the earth. There are also vampires who are “still alive,” in the sense that they’re infected with the vampire plague, but still have some intelligence and humanity left.

For most of the novel, it won’t be clear why Matheson is bothering to make this distinction. It’s only in the final few chapters that we come to understand what he’s doing: as Neville will learn, the still-living vampires will mutate into a race of intelligent, civilized creatures, who wage war against the “living dead.” For the time being, however, the passage is a good example of how science and curiosity give Neville something to live for. All alone in the world, Neville needs something to do, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Studying vampires—reading about medicine, and conducting experiments on them—provides him with a rare sense of excitement and purpose.

Chapter 5 Quotes

Fury exploded in him. Enough!
His rage-palsied hands ripped out the clothes from the bureau drawer until they closed on the loaded pistols.
Racing through the dark living room, he knocked up the bar across the door and sent it clattering to the floor. Outside, they howled as they heard him opening the door. I'm coming out, you bastards! his mind screamed out.

Related Characters: Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Vampires
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of Chapter Five, Neville, having just survived being stranded outside of his house after sunset, chooses to walk outside once again. He’s become so furious with the vampires—and so uneasy with being the only man left on the planet—that he retaliates with mindless violence. He carries two loaded pistols outside, and proceeds to shoot at the vampires. However, Neville’s shots do no damage to (as we later learn, the vampires are impervious to bullets, thanks to the strength of the vampiris bacterium).

Neville’s violence isn’t supposed to serve any practical purpose—rather, it’s his frustrated way of compensating for anxiety, isolation, and depression. It’s important to notice that Neville is capable of acts of savage, useless violence; although he likes to think of himself as a civilized, rational human being (and the vampires as mindless, dangerous killers), he has more in common with the vampires than he would care to admit.

Chapter 7 Quotes

Ten minutes later he threw her body out the front door and slammed it again in their faces. Then he stood there against the door breathing heavily. Faintly he heard through the soundproofing the sound of them fighting like jackals for the spoils.
Later he went to the bathroom and poured alcohol into the teeth gouges, enjoying fiercely the burning pain in his flesh.

Related Characters: Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Vampires
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Neville captures a sleeping vampire, ties her up, takes her to his home, and conducts experiments on her. At one point, the vampire becomes so frightened and frustrated that she bites Neville on the shoulder. Later, when Neville becomes exhausted, he throws her outside, leaving her to be attacked by the vicious, feral vampires outside.

The passage is intriguing because it juxtaposes the vampire’s savagery with Neville’s own perverse behavior. He seems to enjoy the pain of the vampire’s bite, and savors the feeling of pouring alcohol on the wound. There may be an erotic element to this scene, as Neville has shown repressed sexual desire for female vampires before, but it may also be that the searing pain is a reminder of Neville’s humanity and aliveness—he might be feeling something uncomfortable, but at least he’s feeling.

Chapter 8 Quotes

Oliver Hardy always coming back for more, no matter what happened. Ripped by bullets, punctured by knives, flattened by cars, smashed under collapsing chimneys and boats, submerged in water, flung through pipes. And always returning, patient and bruised. That was who Ben Cortman was—a hideously malignant Oliver Hardy buffeted and long-suffering.
My God, it was hilarious!
He couldn't stop laughing because it was more than laughter; it was release.

Related Characters: Robert Neville, Ben Cortman
Related Symbols: Vampires
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Neville looks out of his house after dark and sees the vampires gathering outside his door. He notices one vampire in particular: Ben Cortman, his former friend and neighbor. Suddenly, he realizes that Cortman reminds him of Oliver Hardy, the Hollywood comedian of the thirties and forties. Neville finds the comparison between Hardy and Cortman so amusing that he can’t stop laughing.

As Matheson makes clear, Neville isn’t just laughing because the comparison is funny; he’s laughing because he’s been lonely and depressed for months, and he needs to release some of the anxiety and fear he’s been feeling. In tense, frightening situations, human beings often respond with uncontrollable laughter—psychologists have argued that laughter in the face of danger is a survival mechanism, designed to distance the mind from fear. Neville’s laughter could be termed a survival mechanism, too: here, he’s releasing his stress and fear so that he can maintain his sanity.

Chapter 9 Quotes

He couldn't even scream. He just stood rooted to the spot, staring dumbly at Virginia.
"Rob...ert," she said.

Related Characters: Virginia Neville (speaker), Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Vampires
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of Chapter Nine, Matheson describes how Robert Neville responded to the death of his beloved wife, Virginia. After Virginia succumbed to the vampire plague, he buried her in the ground, even though the law required him to throw his wife’s body in a burning pit (to ensure that she wouldn’t come back from the dead). Shortly afterwards, Virginia arose from the dead, dug her way out of the ground, and walked back to Robert’s home.

The passage is a great example of how, in scary books and films, less is often more. Matheson doesn’t tell us what exactly happens after Virginia, now a vampire, returns to Robert—the chapter ends here, very abruptly. In this way, Matheson allows readers to imagine their own version of what happens next—a technique that builds suspense and proves more terrifying. (Later on, we find out that Robert was forced to kill his vampire wife and bury her again.)

Chapter 10 Quotes

He thought about that visionary lady. To die, he thought, never knowing the fierce joy and attendant comfort of a loved one's embrace. To sink into that hideous coma, to sink then into death and, perhaps, return to sterile, awful wanderings. All without knowing what it was to love and be loved.
That was a tragedy more terrible than becoming a vampire.

Related Characters: Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Vampires
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Robert Neville goes to the Los Angeles Public Library to research the science of vampirism. As he walks through the building, he finds himself thinking about the shy librarian who worked here in the final days of the vampire plague: in all likelihood, he assumes, she was unmarried, lonely, and sad—“a tragedy more terrible than becoming a vampire.”

Setting aside the fact that Neville seems to be stereotyping librarians (for all he knows, she could have been happily partnered or happily single), the passage is an interesting example of how Neville thinks about his own situation. Although Neville is ostensibly talking about the librarian, he’s really talking about himself: Neville hasn’t felt “a loved one’s embrace” in a very long time, and, as the last human being left on the planet, he has no one to love him. Indeed, there are many times in the novel when Neville seems to conclude that being the last man alive is, in fact, worse than being a vampire—in part, that’s why he’s tempted to go outside at night and join the vampires. However, Neville’s hope of finding another human being one day keeps him sane.

Chapter 12 Quotes

The thought of forty more years of living as he was made him shudder.
And yet he hadn't killed himself. True, he hardly treated his body welfare with reverence. He didn't eat properly, drink properly, sleep properly, or do anything properly. His health wasn't going to last indefinitely; he was already cheating the percentages, he suspected.
But using his body carelessly wasn't suicide. He'd never even approached suicide. Why?
There seemed no answer.

Related Characters: Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Alcohol
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Neville contemplates his future and his own mortality. He’s been living alone in Los Angeles for months, and he’s utterly miserable. He takes refuge in books, music, and alcohol, but nothing can entirely replace human contact. As a result, Neville is intensely lonely and depressed; however, as he notes here, he’s never been tempted to commit suicide.

The reason that Neville hasn’t tried to commit suicide, even with his depression, is left unclear. However, what Matheson seems to be implying is that Neville still has the willpower to survive because he wants to feel human contact once again. Survival is the most powerful instinct in the human mind—even when they’re feeling miserable, most people never seriously contemplate ending their own lives, as the hope that life will get better, against all odds, sustains them through their misery. Although he’s isolated and grieving, Neville keeps on living, praying that, some day, he’ll meet another human being.

Chapter 13 Quotes

He smiled down at the dog, his throat moving.
"You'll be all better soon," he whispered. "Real soon." The dog looked up at him with its dulled, sick eyes and then its tongue faltered out and licked roughly and moistly across the palm of Neville's hand.
Something broke in Neville's throat. He sat there silently while tears ran slowly down his cheeks.
In a week the dog was dead.

Related Characters: Robert Neville (speaker)
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

In Chapter Twelve, Neville finds a dog running through the streets of Los Angeles. The dog shows some signs of being infected with the vampire plague, but it also can run through the streets in broad daylight. As a result, Neville isn’t sure what to do with it. However, Neville is so desperate for connection—whether with a human or with an animal—that he tries to adopt the dog as a pet. In this passage, Neville has succeeded in bringing the frightened dog into his house. However, by this point, it’s obvious to Neville that the dog is dying of the vampire plague. Neville wants to cure the dog of its illness by finding an antibiotic, but he’s unable to do so, and the dog dies a week later.

The passage is especially poignant because the dog has been Neville’s only friend since the death of his wife and child. Neville wants to save the dog’s life, not just because he likes dogs but because he needs someone to talk to (even if that “someone” can’t talk back). In the end, Neville fails to find a cure—in all likelihood, he burns the dog’s body in the flaming pit, and reverts to being alone.

Chapter 14 Quotes

The people twisted and moaned and smote their brows and shrieked in mortal terror and screamed out terrible hallelujahs.
Robert Neville was shoved about, stumbling and lost in a treadmill of hopes, in a crossfire of frenzied worship.
"God has punished us for our great transgressions! God has unleashed the terrible force of His almighty wrath!

Related Characters: Robert Neville
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

In this flashback scene, Neville remembers the early days of the vampire plague, when human society was trying to decide how to respond to the impending doom. He recalls attending a fundamentalist religious gathering, in which a preacher told a room full of “frenzied” congregants that God had sent the vampire plague to punish the world for its sins.

There’s a lot to notice here. First, the word “frenzied” is significant, because it’s also one of Matheson’s preferred adjectives for describing the vampires. In this way, Matheson draws an implicit connection between the fearsome, uncontrollable mob of vampires that menace Neville at night, and the wild, ecstatic mob of religious worshippers in the passage. As Neville will soon realize, this comparison is far from arbitrary. Indeed, the religious ecstasy of the final days of the vampire plague may have created more vampires: by teaching human beings to fear vampires, preachers guaranteed that, when their congregants died and arose from the dead, they’d be driven insane with self-loathing, and begin behaving like vampires.

In all, the passage seems to critique organized religion for its lack of logic and clarity. Although the preacher in this scene claims that God is punishing humanity for its sins, Neville later discovers the truth: vampirism has a rational, scientific cause, the vampiris bacterium. As in many science fiction novels, organized religion here comes across as frenzied, illogical, and potentially very dangerous.

Chapter 15 Quotes

As he strolled, Neville wondered again what he'd do if he found Cortman. True, his plan had always been the same: immediate disposal. But that was on the surface. He knew it wouldn't be that easy. Oh, it wasn't that he felt anything toward Cortman. It wasn't even that Cortman represented a part of the past. The past was dead and he knew it and accepted it.
No, it wasn't either of those things. What it probably was, Neville decided, was that he didn't want to cut off a recreational activity.

Related Characters: Robert Neville, Ben Cortman
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of Part Three, two years have passed since we last saw Robert Neville. In these two years, Neville has developed a new routine for himself: he doesn’t drink as much, and every day he devotes himself to hunting down vampires and killing them. Interestingly, Neville has come to enjoy hunting Ben Cortman, the vampire who was once his friend and neighbor. He wonders what would happen if he were ever to kill Cortman, and realizes that he’d be very disappointed—without Cortman to hunt for, he’d probably go back to drinking heavily.

The passage is a good example of the concept of “antagonistic cooperation”: the symbiotic relationship that often emerges between enemies or competitors. Even if Neville hates Cortman, and wants to kill him, he also needs Cortman: the hunt for Cortman provides Neville with a sense of purpose in life. The trope of antagonistic cooperation is very common in science fiction stories and comic books (in Batman comics, for example, it’s often suggested that Batman and Joker “need” each other, even though they’re sworn enemies). All alone in the world, with nothing else to do, Cortman has decided to structure his life around killing vampires—if the vampires were to disappear overnight, his life would be meaningless.

Chapter 16 Quotes

All these years, he thought, dreaming about a companion. Now I meet one and the first thing I do is distrust her, treat her crudely and impatiently.
And yet there was really nothing else he could do. He had accepted too long the proposition that he was the only normal person left. It didn't matter that she looked normal. He'd seen too many of them lying in their coma that looked as healthy as she. They weren't, though, and he knew it. The simple fact that she had been walking in the sunlight wasn't enough to tip the scales on the side of trusting acceptance. He had doubted too long. His concept of the society had become ironbound. It was almost impossible for him to believe that there were others like him. And, after the first shock had diminished, all the dogma of his long years alone had asserted itself.

Related Characters: Robert Neville, Ruth
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Neville has crossed paths with a mysterious woman named Ruth (who later turns out to be a vampire). Neville is unsure what to think about Ruth; his first instinct is to distrust her. However, he’s also sympathetic to Ruth, and wonders if he isn’t predisposed to distrust other people, simply because it’s been so long since he’s had human contact. As he notes here, he’s spent years thinking about human contact—and now that he’s found some, he’s frightened of it.

The passage shows how greatly Neville’s years of loneliness have changed him. In order to survive, Neville has forced himself to focus on the present, rather than dwelling on the past (in particular, his memories of his dead wife, Virginia). In a way, he’s built a one-man “society” for himself, founded on discipline, efficiency, and murder—and now, the idea of adding another person to that society is almost intolerable to him. Nevertheless, Neville eventually decides to let Ruth stay in his home—his suspicions aren’t enough to outweigh his persisting need for companionship.

Chapter 17 Quotes

They were silent then and the only sound in the room was the rasping of the needle on the inner grooves of the record. She wouldn't look at him, but kept staring at the floor with bleak eyes. It was strange, he thought, to find himself vaguely on the defensive for what yesterday was accepted necessity. In the years that had passed he had never once considered the possibility that he was wrong. It took her presence to bring about such thoughts. And they were strange, alien thoughts.
"Do you actually think I'm wrong?" he asked in an incredulous voice.

Related Characters: Robert Neville (speaker), Ruth
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

In Chapter 17, Neville tells Ruth about his one-man society: he explains that he spends his days traveling around the city, searching for Ben Cortman and other vampires to kill. To his surprise, Ruth is revolted by Neville’s descriptions of killing. She suggests that Neville is killing innocent people: some of his victims, after all, are “living vampires”—human beings who have contracted the vampire plague.

Neville is genuinely surprised by Ruth’s suggestion: he’s been killing vampires for so long that the act of killing has become an utterly uncontroversial part of his existence. Though we don’t realize it at the time, Ruth is actually a vampire—a member of the “new society” of the undead. Ironically, Ruth the vampire comes across as much more emotional, sympathetic, and “human” than Neville. Years of killing have hardened Neville, stripping him of compassion. The passage paves the way for Neville’s epiphany in the final chapter, when he realizes that, from the vampire’s perspective, he’s a heartless monster.

Chapter 18 Quotes

He didn't know how long it was they sat there holding each other close. He forgot everything, time and place; it was just the two of them together, needing each other, survivors of a black terror embracing because they had found each other.

Related Characters: Robert Neville, Ruth
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

After knowing each other for less than a day, Ruth and Neville become romantically involved. The scene is staged somewhat awkwardly, partly because 1950s publishing norms probably prevented Matheson from writing an explicit, full-scale love scene. As a result, it’s unclear what, exactly, Ruth and Neville do while “holding each other close.” (The passage is another good example of how Matheson leaves the most emotionally intense moments in I Am Legend up to his readers’ imaginations.)

On a thematic level, the passage is important because it shows Neville finding the companionship he’s craved for all these years. When Neville found Ruth in the streets, he immediately distrusted her; however, in the end, his need for a friend outweighs his distrust, and they end up loving each other. (The fact that Ruth and Neville’s love scene has been censored helps Matheson avoid an awkward plot-hole: if Ruth the vampire has disguised herself as a human being by wearing heavy makeup, wouldn’t Neville notice when he holds her close?)

Chapter 19 Quotes

When I was first given the job of spying on you, I had no feelings about your life. Because I did have a husband, Robert. You killed him.
But now it's different. I know now that you were just as much forced into your situation as we were forced into ours.

Related Characters: Ruth (speaker), Robert Neville
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

After their romantic encounter, Ruth has attacked Neville and abruptly abandoned him. She leaves a letter for Neville, in which she explains that she’s really a vampire from an intelligent, civilized society. She was sent to spy on Neville, the last remaining human being and her husband’s killer, but she decided to forgive him when she realized that Neville is just as frightened of vampires as the vampires are frightened of Neville.

The passage is important because it introduces the theme of moral relativism: although Neville has spent most of the novel thinking that he’s justified in killing vampires in their sleep, he’s inadvertently murdered Ruth’s husband (and, presumably, hundreds of other civilized vampires). But surprisingly, Ruth is willing to overlook Neville’s murders—she understands that he was just trying to survive, just as Ruth and her fellow vampires are now trying to survive. (To some, it might seem implausible that Ruth would forgive Neville for murdering her husband, and fall in love with him, after knowing him for less than a day.)

Chapter 21 Quotes

"New societies are always primitive," she answered. "You should know that. In a way we're like a revolutionary group—repossessing society by violence. It's inevitable. Violence is no stranger to you. You've killed. Many times."
"Only to ... to survive."
"That's exactly why we're killing," she said calmly.

Related Characters: Ruth (speaker), Robert Neville
Related Symbols: Vampires
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final chapter of the novel, Neville finds himself in a prison cell, next to Ruth—who, he now knows, is a member of the new vampire society. Neville accuses Ruth and her fellow vampires of being needlessly cruel and violent, but Ruth responds that all new societies are—but she implies that one day, the society of vampires may become more peaceful. Ruth also draws a comparison between Neville and the vampires. Echoing the themes of the previous chapter, Ruth points out that Neville, no less than the vampires, is a systematic, emotionless killer—he’s spent years of his life killing vampires in their sleep, and thinks of killing as an uncontroversial part of his life.

Ruth hits home her point by stressing that the new vampires kill to survive—in other words, killing is a duty, not a pleasure for them. Neville has seen first-hand that Ruth is wrong: some of the vampires do seem to enjoy killing for the sake of killing. However, over the years, Neville has also shown signs of enjoying killing vampires. Neville tries to tell himself that he’s the “good guy”—the civilized human being who kills only to survive—but he’s finding it increasingly hard to believe this.