“I Am Legend” (Ch. 9 – 11)

David | Jul 7, 2009 min read

So here we get more of Neville’s backstory, the death of his wife, his determination to bury her instead of burn her, and the horror of her return as a vampire. It’s interesting, but what really interested me more in these chapters is how Matheson shows us real change in Neville.

Neville has continued sobering himself up, tackling his situation like a real problem solver. He refers a few time to his father’s belief in the scientific method as inspiration. It’s an interesting character development, so see Neville set upon the library, reading and learning everything he can, teaching himself to use a microscope, learning to understand what he’s looking at, and ultimately coming to the conclusion that this is a virus.

For me, it holds the same fascination as CSI or a police procedural. Matheson does a good job of making the process of discovery itself interesting without doing massive info dumps, giving just the information the reader needs to understand the conclusions.

There was an additional piece in chapter 10 that I found noteworthy. Neville has entered the library, which is still very neat, with all the chairs pushed in at the tables. He’s imaging the poor librarian who pushed them in the last time:

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.

Even in the midst of his situation, Neville can imagine something worse. It’s a clear sign that he’s coming to grips with what’s happening and is committing himself to doing what he can to fix it.

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