October 24th 2012
Alienation in I am Legend
One of the main themes of I am Legend is alienation, it is hard to imagine someone who is more alienated than Robert Neville. He is a normal American man, or at least he was until the world changed around him. Simply by being immune to the virus, he becomes first alone (when his family dies, “life shuddered to a halt.”), then a criminal (when he decides not to bury her. “No he wouldn't put her there.”), then the target of frenzied attacks (as the vampires try to kill him, “they came at night with their guns.”), and finally the only remnant of humanity left alive after the world has been brutally extorted of it's living people.
Some of the techniques Matheson uses are pathetic fallacy such as in chapter one “on these cloudy days” Neville is in a depressed mood, not happy or sad, just alone. The fact that Neville thought “isn't that amazing” about only one wooden board being loose on his house furthers this point as it gives the reader the impression that Neville thinks it in a bland, expressionless voice. The reason this leads to the point of alienation is that loneliness leads to depression and depression leads to isolation. Once isolated in a world where he is truly alone it is extremely challenging for Neville to keep his sanity, the weather plays a big part In his isolation as in chapter four he must spend “another day in a boarded-up rat hole” due to the sky being grey and if he is stuck in the house his mind will start to feel boxed in, as though it can't escape from it's prison.
The nature of a narrator is generally immediately clear to the reader, however, as I am Legend is from the view of an unreliable narrator it isn't clear what Neville's intent is. At first one would assume that all he wants is to survive however later in the book it becomes clear that he what he doesn't just want, but needs companionship because of his feelings of alienation. In chapter twelve when Neville discovers a...