I Am Legend

I Am Legend Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Very late at night, a sound wakes Neville up from the couch, where he’s been sleeping. Neville cries out, “Virge!” only to realize that it’s Ruth, walking down the hall. Neville gets out of bed, dresses, and accuses Ruth of trying to leave him; Ruth denies this. Neville pours himself whiskey and drinks all of it right away. He tells Ruth about the night his wife came back from the dead “to drink my blood.” Neville stuck a wooden stake through his own wife’s heart, killing her for good, and then buried her for the second time.
Neville confuses Ruth and his wife, Virginia, implying a romantic connection between Neville and Ruth, but also suggesting that Neville is far from “over” the trauma of his wife’s death. Furthermore, this chapter marks the first time that Neville has actually talked about killing his wife with a wooden stake.
Themes
Otherness Theme Icon
Grief, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Survival and Violence Theme Icon
Ruth asks Neville, “Why were we punished like this?” Neville says he doesn’t know, and apologizes to Ruth for not trusting her. He tells Ruth that, somehow, things will get better, and holds her tight. Suddenly, Neville and Ruth kiss each other. They “sat there holding each other close” for a long time.
This part is confusingly written: Matheson implies that Neville and Ruth have sex, but because of publishing norms in the 1950s, he’s discouraged from writing about their sexual encounter, and leaves it up to readers to imagine what Ruth and Neville do while “holding each other close.”
Themes
Otherness Theme Icon
Grief, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
After a long time, Neville stands up, gets his syringe and proceeds to draw blood from Ruth. He bends over a microscope, assuring Ruth that, if she is infected, he’ll find a way to cure her. Ruth cries out, “Don’t look!” Neville proceeds to look, anyway, and sees that Ruth is infected. Suddenly, a wooden mallet crashes down on his head. He falls to the floor, and “night filled his brain.”
This is a rather unsurprising plot twist, except for the fact that Ruth immediately shifts from romantic affection to violence. After three years of attacking vampires, the vampires are striking back.
Themes
Otherness Theme Icon
Grief, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Survival and Violence Theme Icon
Science Theme Icon