World War Z

World War Z


Max Brooks

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Patient Zero Character Analysis

The first documented case of the zombie virus. Kwang Jingshu is called in to a remote village where he encounters this 12-year-old boy who had been bitten in the foot while swimming in the waters of a dam. The boy displays symptoms that frighten Jingshu, like the lack of a heartbeat or pulse, and extreme hostility. He asks two villagers to hold the boy down so he can get a blood sample, and as the boy struggles, his arm snaps off. However, the boy doesn’t even notice it and is focused only on attacking Jingshu. Jinsghu immediately knows he is out of his element and calls his friend Dr. Gu Wen Kei for help. Dr. Gu sends in the Chinese authorities, who end up killing the boy. Patient Zero illustrates the strange and terrifying nature of the virus.

Patient Zero Quotes in World War Z

The World War Z quotes below are all either spoken by Patient Zero or refer to Patient Zero. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Rivers edition of World War Z published in 2006.
Chapter 1: Warnings Quotes

At first the villagers tried to hold me back. They warned me not to touch him, that he was “cursed.” I shrugged them off and reached for my mask and gloves. The boy’s skin was as cold and gray as the cement on which he lay. I could find neither his heartbeat nor his pulse. His eyes were wild, wide and sunken back in their sockets. They remained locked on me like a predatory beast. Throughout the examination he was inexplicably hostile, reaching for me with his bound hands and snapping at me through his gag. […]

I instinctively retreated several paces […]. I am embarrassed to admit this; I have been a doctor for most of my adult life. […] I’ve treated more than my share of combat injuries, faced my own death on more than one occasion, and now I was scared, truly scared, of this frail child.

Related Characters: Kwang Jingshu (speaker), Patient Zero
Related Symbols: Zombies
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
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World War Z PDF

Patient Zero Character Timeline in World War Z

The timeline below shows where the character Patient Zero appears in World War Z. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Warnings
Fear Theme Icon
...gagged, and locked in an abandoned house. Kwang tells the narrator that this was “ Patient Zero .” The villagers tried to hold Kwang back and warned him not to get close... (full context)
Fear Theme Icon
When Kwang tried to get a blood sample, Patient Zero struggled so violently that his arm broke off from his body, and yet he didn’t... (full context)