Later in the evening Neville sits at home reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The book is full of silly superstitions and legends about vampires, but its basic premise is sound, Neville decides: throughout history, vampires have been deadly because almost nobody believed in them. But vampires are all-too real. Neville thinks about “the twelve children that afternoon” and shudders.
Bram Stoker was a major influence on Matheson, and not just in I Am Legend; this passage is Matheson’s way of acknowledging his influence. Neville continues to feel guilty for killing vampires—even though he knows it’s the best way to ensure his own survival, he’s not comfortable ending the lives of others.
It’s nighttime. Neville drinks alcohol and hears the voice of Ben Cortman calling out to him. A little drunk, he contemplates going out to join the vampires, so that he can “be one of them,” but then reminds himself why he doesn’t give in: somewhere out there, there must be other human beings like him.
As the novel goes on, Neville begins to flirt with the idea of just giving up the fight and joining the vampires. As the passage implies, Neville is desperate for company, even if it’s the company of vampires.
Suddenly, Neville has a profound feeling that he’ll never see another human being again. Frustrated, he breaks his glass, cutting his hand. He stares down at the blood dripping from his hand, and thinks, “Wouldn’t they like to get some of it?” As he bandages his hand, Neville finds himself thinking about Kathy again.
This passage provides another key piece of information about the vampires (one which readers can probably assume): they survive by drinking blood. This may lead one to ask: if there are no human beings left alive, then how do the vampires feed themselves?
Neville continues drinking. As he becomes slowly drunker, he begins to give a mock-lecture about how the vampire is a persecuted minority—hated throughout history. He wonders aloud if a deadly vampire is any worse than a politician, a manufacturer, a shady businessman, or a terrorist. He concludes that the vampire can’t be blamed for its evil acts—it has no voting rights or means for education. He concludes his lecture by asking, “Sure, but would you let your sister marry one?”
Matheson introduces themes of discrimination and prejudice. While I Am Legend is an entertaining horror/science fiction novel, it’s also a serious meditation on otherness. Even if Neville is drunk in this scene, the political themes that he brings up (e.g., that vampires aren’t evil, but misunderstood, yet he still wouldn’t feel comfortable treating them as complete equals), are very important to the novel.
Neville staggers around his house, trying not to think about the beautiful bodies waiting for him outside. He walks to his door and starts to remove the heavy bar that keeps the door locked. As he lifts the bar, he can hear the vampires outside howling with excitement. Then, suddenly, Neville lets the bar fall again, and walks back to his bedroom. He thinks, “how long, how long?”
Seemingly the last human being in Los Angeles, Neville has no potential for romance or sex; as a result, he’s sexually drawn to the vampires. Clearly, Neville is finding it difficult to be alone—he hungers for connections with others.