World War Z

World War Z

by

Max Brooks

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World War Z: Chapter 8: Good-Byes Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Burlington, Vermont. The Whacko tells the narrator that they’d decided to declare victory as soon as the continental U.S. was secured even though they knew the real war was far from over. They understood that the people were tired and needed to hear this news, and that they had to give their soldiers the option to return to their homes and stop fighting. The UN multinational task force was formed to help with the international missions, and many volunteers signed up. The Whacko says that he was criticized for not keeping this an all-American mission, but he believed that those who wanted to rest should have the opportunity to do so. As a result, perhaps the overseas campaigns were a little slower. In any case, not all the zombies have been purged yet, and the war is still on. 
The Whacko and the president understood that both the civilians and the armed forces were tired of the war and were looking forward to good news, so they declared victory as soon as the zombies in America were eliminated. Some people believed that the American soldiers had to be sent into Canada and Mexico as well, but the Whacko insisted that those soldiers who wanted to return home should have the opportunity to do so—many soldiers (like Wainio) must have been grateful for this option. Again, the Whacko’s statement shows that the government respected their soldiers and valued them more than their agenda (unlike, say, the French government who wanted a quick, impressive victory at any cost.)
Themes
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The Cost of War Theme Icon
Khuzhir, Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal, The Holy Russian Empire. Maria Zhuganova is four months pregnant with her eighth child. She says that she regrets that she couldn’t continue to serve Russia after they had eliminated all the zombies in the country—she would have liked to help liberate their former territories of zombies, too. However, she was already busy with the important project of repopulating Russia since there are very few healthy young women left. There are many facilities like this throughout the nation and she is happy to be of service. She hesitates a little when she says that she doesn’t care that she doesn’t know the father of her children or the children themselves.
Zhuganova seems to be in sort of facility where she is having babies to build up Russia’s population. She claims to be happy to serve her country in this way, but the narrator notes that she “hesitates” as she says this, implying that she has her qualms and can’t voice them. Russia seems to have sacrificed its humanity in its desire to build its power. Zhuganova also mentions that Russia “helped liberate” its former territories of zombies, which probably means that Russia is probably invading these territories under the guise of helping them. Russia is using the zombie crisis as an excuse to colonize other nations.
Themes
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Zhuganova wonders if the narrator is puzzled by ideas like this in a “fundamentalist state.” She says that no one in Russia really believes in religion, except for Father Ryzhkov, who has been packed off into obscurity. She tells the narrator that he, too, is being used by the state to let the world know its true nature and to warn them to not mess with it. They revel in the fact that they are feared again, and are therefore safe. They are happy that they have “the protective fist of a Caesar.”
Russia has grown into an aggressive and morally repugnant nation that is confident in its growing power. Zhuganova says the narrator, too, is being used by the state to flex its muscles to the world since Russia wants other nations to be wary of it. She declares that the people are happy that the nation is powerful again, saying their ruler is once again like a “Caesar” or a king. 
Themes
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The Cost of War Theme Icon
Bridgetown, Barbados, West Indies Federation. The bar is closing down, but T. Sean Collins signals for another drink. He admits that he is addicted to murder, like some war vets, and gets a rush after he kills a zombie. When he stopped killing zombies, all he could think about when he met or spoke to any person was where and how he could hit them to kill them efficiently. He feared he would act on these thoughts, which is why he joined the Impisi, “a private outfit, no rules, no red tape,” to kill more zombies. He fights with a Maori weapon called a pouwhenua, a type of “sharpened steel paddle,” and derives the biggest thrills from hand-to-hand combat.
Collins has a problem that some veterans do after all the fighting is over—he misses the rush he gets from killing the enemy. He chooses to channel it positively, by killing more zombies, and is afraid that he might murder people instead if he does not do this. This, too, is a serious psychological effect of the war.
Themes
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Collins has heard of other mercenaries who manage to quit killing and retire peacefully, and he hopes that will be him someday. And if not, he says that after the last zombie is killed, “the last skull [he’ll] crack’ll probably be [his] own.”
Collins seems to be tragically doomed to keep fighting his whole life, and bleakly thinks he might have to kill himself after the last zombie is gone.
Themes
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Sand Lakes Provincial Wilderness Park, Manitoba, Canada. Jesika Hendricks says that she met an ex-Iranian pilot who told her that “Americans are the only people he’s ever met who just can’t accept that bad things can happen to good people.” She says he is right, and she still feels angry and bitter when she sees that some people who don’t deserve to be alive survived and her parents died.
Hendricks still struggles with her parents’ deaths and the consequences of the zombie years. She is now an adult, and seems way more hardened than the child she was at the start of the crisis. Yet, she still suffers the consequences of those times and probably always will, showing that the effects of war last longer than just the end of the fighting. 
Themes
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Troy, Montana, USA. Mrs. Miller says that she is the American system, and therefore she is to blame. She says that this is the price of living in a democracy, and she understands why other countries shy away from it. It is easy to be able to absolve oneself of blame, but she says that what happened is “the fault of everyone of [her] generation.” She wonders what future generations will say about them. They cleaned up the zombie menace, but they are also the ones who allowed it to become such a problem.
Miller acknowledges that the people of America were as much to blame for the crisis getting out of hand as the government was. They were not the helpless victims they like to think of themselves as being because they live in a democracy. She worries whether future generations will blame them for this, even though they did get rid of the zombies, too. Her interview reminds people that their ignorance and apathy allows problems to get out of hand.
Themes
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Chongqing, China. Kwang Jingshu says that he is happy to see children born after the end of the war since they “don’t know to be afraid, and that is the greatest gift.” He says he has lived through several upheavals in his lifetime, but that China has pulled through every time. He is optimistic that China—and the world—will continue to survive. 
Kwang is optimistic about the future of China, and of the world more broadly, and is happy that children born after the war don’t have to live in constant fear. To him, a life lived without fear is a “gift” since fear has such a negative impact on people.
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Fear Theme Icon
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Wenatchee, Washington, USA. Joe Muhammad says that a positive thing that came out of the war was that “it did bring people together.” Pre-war American society was pretty segregated—Muhammad’s parents were from Pakistan and never quite integrated—but now everyone in the world has a “powerful shared experience.” He admits he might be overly optimistic and that once things return to “normal,” people will “probably go right back to being […] selfish and narrow minded”—but hopes it will be different. 
Muhammad hopes that the war united people from all over and showed them that they had a shared experiences and emotions. This is the same idea the narrator states in the introduction—that people’s emotions and experiences will connect them across time and place.
Themes
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Taos, New Mexico, USA. Arthur Sinclair says he loves his job of being a “money cop” or SEC chairman. He suspects that, as with his DeStRes job, he only has this job because nobody else wants it. His job is to discover who really earned the money they hold and who looted it. This includes small-time thieves as well as “big fish” like Breckenridge Scott who will be brought home soon to face the IRS (and everyone else who can’t wait to get their hands on him.) Sinclair says that everything is getting better, including the economy, since capitalism is based on confidence.
After successfully leading the DeStRes during the war, Sinclair has moved onto another challenging job—this time, he will help rebuild America’s messy and challenging post-war economy. He insists that “everything is getting better” since people everywhere seem confident. This is what the American president wanted to achieve when he decided to wage war against the zombies, and it seems like his vision has come to pass. Sinclair also tells the narrator that Scott, the maker of Phalanx, will be brought home to face the music, and it seems fitting that justice will be served. Sinclair, like Kwang, seems hopeful about the future.
Themes
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Kyoto, Japan. The Shield Society has been designated an independent branch of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. While watching Ijiro greeting guests, Tatsumi tells the narrator that he doesn’t “really believe any of this spiritual ‘BS.’” He thinks Ijiro is crazy, but knows he has “started something wonderful.” He says that Ijiro’s generation wanted to rule the world while Tatsumi’s generation was happy to let the world (namely, America) rule them. Japan’s future lies in taking the middle path, where people “take responsibility for [their] own protection, but not so much that it inspires hatred and anxiety among […] fellow nations.”
Tatsumi surprisingly confesses to the narrator that he believes in none of the spirituality that Ijiro preaches, but that he values his message of independence. Tatsumi wants to help Japan find its own self-sufficient identity rather than being taken over by American culture, as he was in his young days, or returning to imperialism, as it had been in the past. This new vision of independence, while relying on the traditions of the past, seems like the ideal way forward for the world in general.
Themes
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Armagh, Ireland. Philip Adler says that they “lost a hell lot more than people when [they] abandoned them to the dead.”
Adler is still angry about the cruelty of the Redeker Plan, implying that it made people lose their humanity.
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Related Quotes
Tel Aviv, Israel. Warmbrunn says that he’s “heard it said that the Holocaust has no survivors.” Even those who are “technically alive” are “irreparably damaged.” He wants to believe that this is not true, but if it is, “then no one on Earth survived this war.”
According to Warmbrunn, everyone in the world was irreparably traumatized by the zombie war. Though the war was won, the suffering will continue for many.
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Aboard USS Tracy Bowden. Michael Choi says that the whales lost World War Z. There were too many hungry boat people and too many explosions on the ocean. He says one doesn’t have to be “some patchouli stinking crunchhead” to know that this is a huge loss. His dad worked at an oceanographic institute and Choi came to love the ocean by watching whales. The gigantic creatures could have easily hurt people but didn’t. Now, they are gone forever.
Choi believes that one of the biggest losses of the war was that it destroyed the planet and the environment, too. Animals like the whales were innocent and gentle victims of the crisis, and are now extinct. Through mourning these animals, Choi seems to also be mourning a completely transformed world.
Themes
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Denver, Colorado, USA. Todd Wainio admits that he “lose[s] it sometimes” but that the army psychiatrist assures him that it is totally normal for this to happen since he’s been through so much. He recalls the final day of the war, watching the sun rise over New York. The word “peace” had lost its meaning for him as he tried to wrap his head around what it might be like to stop “fighting, killing, and waiting to die.” He thought it was a dream, and sometimes, it still feels like one to him.
Wainio has been psychologically affected by the stress of the war and has post-traumatic episodes. On the final day of the war, he couldn’t even remember what life would be like with no fighting. Though the war had been fought, and won, Wainio felt no joy or triumph. Despite the battles they had won and the lives that had been saved, so much had been lost that Wainio feels unmoored by the entire experience.
Themes
The Cost of War Theme Icon