“World War Z” by Max Brooks
The book titled World War Z by Max Brooks is a story about the war against zombies which is told through a series of interviews with people all over the world. The zombie wave, just like all other kinds of plague, starts in a slow and steady manner in China, from where it spreads into the world through a number of routes. It includes human trafficking, sell of body organs in the black markets, and immigration of refugees. Dead people start to rise from their graves, and they have an unquenchable thirst for human flesh. Israel is the first country to take this threat seriously, so they accept the initiative of zombie-roofing their boarders. It is not easy for government to control zombies even with the defensive measures they have taken against them, since their military force do not understand the nature of this new enemy. This leads to disastrous confrontations between the militaries and the zombies, as it is described in the Battle of Yonkers. People start to panic, and the majority of them flee with those little resources they have. However, most of them die in the most inhumane of ways. In the end, the humans thrive, and the zombie invasion is stopped. This paper seeks to establish which parts of text are of most significant thematic, cultural, philosophical, and intellectual importance.
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The main theme which the story is centered around is the theme of fear. The author addresses many types of terror which go beyond the simple fear of being eaten alive by zombies. In the novel, fear does not only make people jump up at night or choose not to walk in the dark, but it also makes the governments of various nations panic, since their knowledge and resources are not adequate enough to ensure protection against zombies. Fear is the main concept that brings all the different layers of the story in the novel together. It becomes obvious from the novel that people are scared so much because the real fights against zombies are practically physically impossible — people do not even have a chance to fight fair since their enemies are unusual in many different ways. The main fear, however, is not in people’s reluctance to hurt or kill the other person, but in the psychological impact zombies have on people. They scare them to the point where the only choice people have is to stay at home forever. On the other hand, zombies can not even sense fear or feel scared like human beings. All they want is to feast endlessly on the human flesh and their brains, without thinking that one day they may actually run out of humans to feast upon.
The people are also afraid of the consequences of any action or choice they might make in their fight against the zombies. According to the novel, it is only right to blame oneself for the consequences of any action taken, since the blame can not be leveled against the organizer of the plan or the commanding officer of the military. In a time like this, people have to make their own choices and live each day with the consequences of the decisions they made. Even General Land is said to have known this too well, and that is why he opts to desert his crew just like they deserted the civilians. At some point, people think they have to reach North Korea to survive, but they fear the trip itself. Fear is a part of man’s natural survival instinct, and it was deeply engraved in the minds of the older people who had gone through the phase of slavery at some point in their lives. During the war with zombies, people can only run, since they all know the kind of enemy they are up against, just as they know whether or not the enemy is coming. All they can do is run and pray. The concept of transformation of dead bodies into ravenous killing machines instills so much fear that people can not stop digging for information until they get to the absolute truth in an effort to make informed decisions. This is how people in Jurgen’s country have trained themselves to respond to terrifying situations.
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The zombie plague greatly contributed to a culture of deceit, leading to the loss of innocent lives. From the novel, people from various spheres of life, including the military, government officials, simple civilians, and even parents — they all lie and deceive others. The lies initially were the weapon that created the worldwide plague that killed millions of innocent people. Even though the government of China was aware of the fact that the disease was very deadly, they still attempted to cover it up, hiding it from both its own people and the rest of the world. Additionally, people such as Fernando Oliveira and Nury Televaldi contributed to the rapid spread of the plague through illegal human trafficking and organ donation from and within the country. If the government of China was honest enough, they could have warned the public about the upcoming danger. The plague could have been contained since a number of people could have taken the initiative to stop them. Even as the plague started to spread across borders to other countries, the governments still withheld the information from the public, and this resulted in the worldwide epidemic.
From an intellectual point of view, the novel does a lot in helping people think critically and understand the realities beyond those which they see in life and surroundings of the characters in the novel. For instance, not so many people in World War Z are privileged enough to have received some form of education. However, the situation that led to the astonishingly low levels of education is well understood when the author explains the conditions that those people live under. The Battle of Yonkers turns out to be an epic failure because the military did not study their enemy well enough. Thus, they did not know much about the zombie mentality. Even though parents dream of a better life for their families, they can do very little in order to achieve this. Most children live in grinding, hopeless, and humiliating poverty. Thus, it is easy to understand why it is so difficult for them to acquire the needed knowledge through education. Consequently, the zombie threat has brought a number of other problems that people in different parts of the world have to go through, and this shows how dangerous the lack of knowledge can be.
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Even though most people claim that they know how to survive in the world, very few of them actually do it, and it happens only because of the benefits of technology and other machinery that have made their life bearable. The only way to know if someone can actually survive in the world described by the author is to put them through the kind of life that people in the story have to live through. From the novel it is clear that even parents are caught up in a staggering amount of panic, and they do not know the best way that could get them out of the terrible situation, or even how to explain it to their children. One parent in the story has to tell his child that what they are going through is just an extended camping trip, and they have to live on wild berry desserts and moose burgers. This moment is bittersweet, because this parent has actually never been on a camping expedition. The fact that some people manage to make it through the ordeal is mostly due to luck. It would not be appropriate to say that they do everything right and this is why they survive. One can only earn the survivors badge if they manage to live with the help of their skills.
From a philosophical point of view, the origin of zombies and what they have against humanity is not easy to decipher. These creatures do not hold life in high regard like it is supposed to be, since they hunt human beings like animals. The book gives a detailed description of how the hunting is done by zombies, first following people’s steps for miles, then cornering them and eating them alive. Worst still, they leave them to rot in the forest. The impact of the zombie attacks is not only felt by the soldiers who are fighting against them — it spreads among the whole of humanity in all regions of the world. The societies are damaged and drained of their resources. Humans are compelled to unveil their greater evils by turning against each other in their quest to survive. Amidst all these things, there is no solid reason why the zombies are doing all these inhumane things. All they want to do is to eat the human flesh and brain for no apparent reason.
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On the other hand, human beings in the novel can be considered to be more primitive when compared to the zombies. First of all, they can not stand in solidarity with each other or even do noble things to help each other out. The humans put their self-interests first, and they would do anything to preserve their own life or their way of life, including killing, stealing, stabbing each other in the back, and selling each other out. The system of their values is so rotten that practically no one acts reasonably and rationally in order to save the situation. In one instance, Dr. Silva performs a heart transplant procedure on a patient known as Muller. Unfortunately, the heart is infected and Muller turns into a zombie. If the authorities did their job of cracking the whip of illegal doctors, Dr. Silva could not have been allowed to conduct operations and Muller could have gone to a credited hospital which could have managed to save his life. However, the authorities focus on the bribes that they receive from such doctors, so they allow them to operate. Additionally, the serious approach of the authorities could have helped to choke the smuggling of human organs. Also, it could have helped to contain the virus altogether.
The novel titled World War Z by Max Brooks goes to great depths in order to explain the details of a war that involves human beings and zombies. The war starts in a slow and steady manner, but it soon spirals out of control, mainly because of the way in which the government chooses to handle the situation. The war spreads panic across all nations since people do not understand the kind of enemy they are expected to fight against. Everyone does everything they can to protect themselves, even if it means killing, back stabbing, or selling each other out jut to save their own skin. The authorities contribute to the deterioration of the war by encouraging illegal organ donations, human trafficking, and illegal operations by unauthorized doctors which they allow because of the bribes. People live in fear not just of the war, but also of the unknown. The war also helps to highlight the circumstances under which the people in the society live, and the numerous problems that they overcome in their daily undertakings. Most of them live in poverty, and this explains why they never got a chance to get an education.