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On The Walking Dead
The Complicated Nature of Personhood in The Walking Dead
“She’s not your mother anymore.”
—Ed, Shaun of the Dead
“I don’t want to be walkin’ around like that.”
—Roger, Dawn of the Dead
“Keep your funeral, dear. Timmy and I are going zombie.”
Zombie stories scare us in many ways, triggering our primal fear of being eaten alive, our instinctive horror of corpses, and even our unconscious worry about the collapse of civilization. They spur our imagination, helping us contemplate how we would handle ourselves during a large-scale, life-threatening crisis. Most zombie tales also expose a fascinating paradox about the living dead. On one hand, the human characters believe reanimated corpses are no longer the people they once were. Nearly every zombie text features a conversation like the one from Shaun of the Dead (2004) in which Ed persuades Shawn that the zombie Barbara is no longer her former self. On the other hand, many stories also include a moment in which someone who has been bitten begs to be shot, as Roger does from his deathbed in Dawn of the Dead (1978). This paradox about the relationship between a person and their zombie corpse threads through the Walking Dead comic. However, because the comic has had such a long run, it takes this contradictory perspective to new extremes, challenging how we understand the relationship between minds and bodies. The comic complicates what it means to be a person and draws attention to the situated nature of our identities.
THAT’S NOT YOUR MOTHER . . . OR IS IT?
Most zombie stories assert early and …
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