On The Walking Dead

The Hero Wears the Hat

Carl as 1.5-Generation Immigrant and True Protagonist
By David Hopkins

Two children, a girl and a boy, hold hands. The boy wears a cowboy hat and a bandana tied around his neck. In front of them is a tall chain-link fence. A few yards farther away, there is another fence and then another. Beyond that, clutching, clawing, and snarling, is an uncountable mass of zombies. The children face the zombies, taking it all in. The boy turns to the girl.

“You–are you still scared of them?”

“I was. I used to be. I still don’t like the sounds they make, but I’m not scared of them anymore. Mostly I just feel sorry for them.”

This moment in issue twenty-one of The Walking Dead says much about the series and how people acclimate to a new world. As an ongoing comic book, The Walking Dead has always been about the long-term effects of a zombie apocalypse–not just how a group of people escape the farmhouse when zombies surround it and not just how a group of people escape the mall when zombies surround it, but how people live day after day, year after year, when zombies occupy and overwhelm their world. The zombie films that involve groups of people escaping from various buildings (yes, I broke the code) are primarily about immediate survival. The Walking Dead goes further. This story is not only about survival but also about immigration–people entering into a new habitat and finding their place within it.

The two children, Sophia and Carl, represent the future for humanity in a dangerous world.  …

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