1)Patterson argues, “It is my contention that the dramatic structure of Matheson’s novel contains a very clear, racially charged subtext that reflects the cultural anxieties of a white America newly confronted with the fact that it can no longer segregate itself from those whom it has labeled Other. This Other may be constructively viewed as a manifestation of what Toni Morrison has termed an “Africanist” presence” (19). How does Patterson go on to support her claims? Do you agree with her reading of I Am Legend? Why or why not? What is your opinion of Toni Morrison’s claim about an “Africanist presence”? What does she mean by this statement and how does it change the ways one might read these novels?
2) Explore Patterson’s ideas about women in I Am Legend. To what extent are the portrayals of women in the novel indicative of how women were viewed in the 1950s? What is the connection between women and “race” in this novel according to Patterson?
3) Patterson states, “In Neville’s worldview, hybrid blood equals contaminated blood. His obsessive studies of blood and his efforts to identify, prevent, and possibly cure blood contamination reflect a desperate desire to restore homogeneity and, with it, a social order that he recognizes.” What is the importance of “blood” in this novel? How is it similar or different to other discussion of “blood” in other vampire novels we’ve read? (23)
4) Patterson spends a great deal of time examining the representations of the “half breed” in this novel. She quotes H.L. Malchow who states,
“… there is also lurking in the vampire the powerful suggestion of an explicitly racial obsession – that of the “half-breed.” Both vampire and half-breed are creatures who transgress boundaries and are caught between two worlds. Both are hidden threats – disguised presences bringing pollution of the blood. Both may be able to “pass” among the unsuspecting, although both bear hidden signs of their difference, which the wary may read. “(168)
In your own words, explain where the anxieties surrounding the “half breed” come from and what they say about western notions surrounding “purity” and “race.”
5) Choose one of the stories in the later novels and explain its relationship to the vampire novel or the horror genre in general. How do some of the themes in I Am Legend relate to some of the other themes Matheson explores in these later stories?
6) How do the vampires differ from the vampires in the earlier novels we have read? Do you see a "shift" in behavior? Why do you think this is the case?
7) Neville ends the novel by saying, "I am legend." What does he come to understand at the end of the book? What does he mean by this statement?